The Purpose and The Situation*


In the celebrated article on Target in the New York Times a few years back, much was made of the means by which Target correlated data to determine likely purchase decisions, specifically in relation to predicting whether someone was pregnant. However, for me, the point that stood out was around the time of your life at which you’d change purchasing habits. Having a child is a major point in anyone’s life but it also reduces the time you have to shop around for particular items. This is a huge opportunity for the larger retails stores to be the one-stop shop for harried parents.

Given that in mind, this year we have extended our annual Content Matters report. For the past two years we’ve conducted primary research across the region to determine the platforms and content that people view and share prior to making a purchase decision. The report is conducted across various industry sectors from cosmetics to finance to consumer electronics.

This year we’ve decided to add the element of time, whether a particular time of life or time of year. For example, early indications show that promotions are a key point across many sectors. Increasingly, pure demographics are less useful than understanding consumer interests and points in people’s life. I can personally attest that most of my brand decisions have changed through different relationships, certainly my clothing.. major life moments from leaving school to buying a home to getting married all have impact that are unrelated to age.

It’s less about the person and more about the purpose.

Another change is that this year we will share one market report per month starting with India and moving through Hong Kong then Singapore initially. So WE are extending the report over time as well.

Adding the element of time to data creates additional issues around how we express this creatively. Previously we had a written report where our design team turned charts into colorful creative, aiming to adhere to the maxim that if you can’t understand it on first viewing then it’s not a good expression of data. The balance we need to strike is threefold. First we have the basic data on percentage differences between platform and content choices. Then we need to add in the impact of time in a way that isn’t confusing. The final issue is whether we move from flat design to something more interactive, which is a balance between time investment and engaging output.

To some extent this is the challenge faced by all marketers, technology has reached a point where we can do amazingly creative things with information but is it worth the investment? Additional complexity comes with additional considerations. In looking to fuse our Insights & Analytics with our Creative team brings two very different mindsets together.

I’d say that this is similar to adding new dimensions, moving from creating something in 2D to 3D and then 4D. It demands a different form of thinking if not harnessing the attributes of different types of thinkers and that’s what we hope to do. Content Matters has always acted as an expression of where we want to be as an agency, whether we can do it only time can tell.

*This is play on a book title “The Person and The Situation”. Written by acclaimed social psychology professors Lee Ross and Richard E. Nisbett, the book explores how situational context affects the process of decision-making.