Have you ever had a bad experience with a product and felt irritated when the store or company didn’t empathize with your frustration? They probably offered you a refund or an alternative product, but what you really wanted was for someone to listen and understand where you were coming from. In order for today’s marketers to fully grasp the emotions of consumers, we must be willing to make an emotional connection ourselves. While it may be tempting to rely on data alone, it requires an emotional, empathetic experience to extract those deeper insights that are often easy to overlook.
According to a recent Fast Company article, Neurophysiologist Giacomo Rizzolatti and his team at the University of Parma, Italy, discovered that empathy is mediated by neurons in the brain’s motor system. According to Rizzolatti, “These “mirror neurons,” give humans the capacity for shared experiences by enabling us to project ourselves into the minds, feelings, and actions of others. He explained, “We are exquisitely social creatures. Mirror neurons allow us to grasp the minds of others not through conceptual reasoning but through direct simulation. By feeling, not by thinking.”
What does this mean for marketers? By shifting our focus from competition to consumer needs, we can provide consumers with a safe sounding board to be heard and understood. As Rizzolati and his team discovered, our brains are literally wired to grasp the minds of others on an empathetic level, it’s just a matter of allowing ourselves to do so. Instead of simply identifying consumer triggers and pain points through data, we need to go one step further and actually feel our consumers’ frustrations and relate on a personal level. When we do this, it’s much easier to get to the root of the problem and develop sincere solutions to improve and innovate.
Research without compassion will give you data. Research with empathy and understanding will give you incredible insights and the opportunity to create brand advocates that last a lifetime.