What’s it really mean to live in a networked world? It means none of us are ever just talking to one person. You’re potentially talking to their entire network.

Last week, I was having dinner with my friend who runs the shopper marketing practice at a major agency. I shared my theory of why brand managers don’t “get” culture. The gist of her response was: The challenge for marketers is to understand cultural and social movements and figure out what consumer segments map back to them. It’s not about the old way of knowing a consumer, understanding all the psychographics, then determining a specific segment to target.

Think of it like this: The old way was individuals —> out to a larger world of needs, lifestyles and interests.  Something like this:


The new way: Understanding networks and how they map BACK to specific consumer segments and when.  Perhaps its something like this:


Yes, it makes our jobs all the more complicated.

Which brings me to Tim Stock’s slideshare, Zombie Research. Basically, he’s suggesting that research methods need to be updated to better grasp the new and evolving ways that people are constructing meaning. Interesting point: New behaviors drive the creation of new language to describe it. I think Tim makes a point worth reiterating: If research methods don’t evolve, consumers, shoppers and the marketplace itself will continue to outpace marketers.


Posted by Rob Fields

Observer. Curator. Marketer. Dot connector.