With every passing year we think we become smarter. We get a new gadget, a new phone (sometimes we can’t tell the difference between the two), a new car, a new hair do and sometimes even a new body. We read more, learn more, study harder, work longer and balance our work and our "life". We "consume" media in ever new formats denoted by TLAs and order-in the food we are simply too tired to cook ourselves.
After writing this post on focus groups, I received some great comments and feedback. I also got a question that made me stop and think … KG asked:
Since MySpace, YouTube, blogs, and all 2.0 phenomena, have focus group participants become a little too media-savvy? Or too jaded because they’re constantly surrounded by media messages in their leisure time?
It’s a great question because it raises a number of other questions about the nature of our audiences, their analytic ability and their willingness to act. My view is this …
In that focus group participants are "supposed" to be representative of us lot, then we are really talking about the GP (general public). And you know, we might be interested in blogs, might write or read them, and sometimes even comment on them, but I don’t think that changes the fundamental drives that attract us to products and services. If anything, it makes us admire good marketing/sales more because we have some understanding of the techniques.
Having said that, I think we also are more short tempered. We don’t suffer fools or poor quality — we fast forward through ads or remove them via TiVo, we click away from those annoying interstitials (which agencies think they work anyway?) and find alternatives to YouTube when Google puts too many ads in feed.
Does this make us smarter or more savvy? Does it affect the sample? No … I think these changes are, to a degree, uniform — affecting more or less equally. And if we are all smarter or more tired or more overwhelmed, then it balances out.
BUT … KG also seems to be asking a hidden question — is marketing still effective? And the answer is yes — but a "qualified yes". Because we are more savvy, overwhelmed, tired and plain fed-up, and because we can now choose the timing, method and manner of our consumption of media, we are also changing the dynamic. We seek truthfulness and authenticity. We seek dialogue and engagement. And we also seek novelty and entertainment. This means that, as marketers, we need new tools to engage our audiences.
But remember, no matter HOW much smarter we are … there are still some of us who are going to tattoo our asses.