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Restarting from peeling the onion: A Human-Centric approach

Matteo Rinaldi

Many companies have understood the key to success. The key is to ask ourselves the right question: how much are we peeling the onion? An o “well-peeled onions” means understanding consumers in a more holistic way, at 360 degrees. Restarting our journey from this perspective allows us to achieve greater success.

The power of human-centric marketing

In these uncertain periods, where some companies are still struggling with dealing with the constant changes, I strongly believe that we should bring back the attention to the “customer” more than ever.

Freud believed that the individual’s behavior is defined by their fears and desires, which are repressed in the unconscious.
In a way, the job of a great marketer nowadays should be very similar to the one of a psychoanalyst. Understanding the unconscious aspects that determine people’s (consumers’) behavior unites both professions. This, in my opinion, will set the basis for a new successful marketing strategy.

Very often companies make the mistake of studying the consumers only considering their own product category, but with such a reduced target analysis that won’t help them to understand the consumer deeply enough and reveal the reasons why they chose a certain product. In this way, it’s like stopping “at the first layer of the onion”.

Not stopping at the first layer

It’s just by continuing to peel it and going deeper, layer after layer, that we find substantial insights and answers that will help us to understand the behavior, needs, and tension points of a person. Peeling the onion means “undressing people from their consumer’s clothes” and understanding them as human beings.

I like to call people who have very little or no experience with cooking “cutters” (my dad, for example, I don’t think I have ever seen him making a fried egg, although he’s an excellent cutter of bread, tomatoes, onions, etc.). Cutters will definitely know that the more you peel an onion, the more you’ll tend to cry.

The same happens with marketing. The more you try to go deeper on understanding the human being inside what we have until nowadays called “consumer” the deeper insights we will have. These deep human insights will help us to create a proper marketing strategy able to connect people and brands on a deep emotional level.

Restarting from another perspective

What is left for us then is to ask ourselves: how much are we peeling the onion?
Restarting from a “well-peeled onion” means understanding consumers in a more holistic way, at 360 degrees. Adopting this mindset will help us identify the deepest and most relevant insights that will be the foundation of our marketing strategy. Also, it will enable us to expand our business, attracting new potential clients.

Whether you are CEOs or Marketing Directors of a multinational company, or the owner of a small business, look at your consumers, and they will show you the way.

Now more than ever, if you want to create a successful brand, you need to be curious about why people do what they do. This means not stopping at the first layer of the onion, but instead, diving into consumer behaviors, beliefs, and psychologies. The more you understand, the more you are able to create an emotionally engaging connection between brands and people.

3 reasons why brands should focus on human-centric marketing.

In my experience of working with multiple brands, from many categories, and across various countries, I have found three key reasons why it is important to look at customers as human beings.

  1.  Brands are a source of emotions

    As marketers, we tend to think that customers overanalyze their choices. However, human beings usually act based on emotions and then seek a rational explanation of why they act like that. Purchasing decisions are no exception.
    Abraham Lincoln once said: “In order to win a man to your cause, you must first reach his heart, the great high road to his reason.” Indeed, to be successful, every brand should balance communication between functional and emotional benefits.

  2.  Humans influence other humans

    As humans, we all aspire. Whether consciously or not, we are constantly influencing others and being influenced by others at the same time.
    Consequently, to make the best choice when making purchasing decisions, we often seek advice from those who we think of as experts, those who are passionate about the specific category we are interested in, just as others look to us in areas where we have the expertise or strong experience.
    Therefore, we should focus on those people that strongly influence others, and that others aspire to be.

  3.  Lifestyle matters

    Understanding peoples’ lifestyles allows companies to determine when and where people will capture and assimilate a specific message in the most impactful way. Understanding the varying mindsets throughout various activities will help you understand the levels of receptivity people experience during their day.

Stop worrying too much about your competitors or about the constant changes arising from this uncertain period. Instead, focus on your consumers, and try to understand them as human beings first, and not just as “consumers”. Understand what these difficult periods meant to them, and then create brands that can be relevant to them. Help them to feel better about themselves and with others during these uncertain times. Restarting from a well-peeled onion will most probably give you the insights you were missing to unleash your brand’s potential.

For more insights on marketing, go check the other articles in our blog!