Data plays a huge part in advertising decisions. Sure, a good ad network can give you all the tools that you need, but your choices on how to use those tools are what will really make or break your campaign. When deciding on what ad type to serve up, what copy to write, and where to display them, you should always refer to what your research is telling you.
Yes, gathering data is crucial when you’re in the ad business. However, it isn’t enough. Data can only go so far. Test results and statistics have their limitations and sometimes, you need to go beyond the numbers to pull off a successful campaign.
Case in point: BIC’s ill-advised effort to market to the female demographic. A few months ago, the pen company unveiled BIC For Her (yes, that is the actual name of the product), a pen specifically designed for women. It features an “elegant design – just for her” and even has a “thin barrel to fit a woman’s hand.”
Needless to say, the sexist nature of the product drove women (and even males) to react via social media. Numerous users wrote hilarious, sarcastic reviews on Amazon. What’s more, since the guys at BIC didn’t secure the bicforher.com domain and @BicForHer Twitter handle, Bic For Her parodies invaded the Twitterverse and blogosphere.
Now, we can go on and on here and make fun of BIC, but it would be so much better if we let Amazon users tell you themselves. Here are some of the best and most hilarious reviews we’ve seen:
I love BIC Cristal for Her! The delicate shape and pretty pastel colors make it perfect for writing recipe cards, checks to my psychologist (I’m seeing him for a case of the hysterics), and tracking my monthly cycle. Obviously, I don’t use it for vulgar endeavors like math or filling out a voter application, but BIC Cristal for Her is a lovely little writing utensil all the same. Ask your husband for some extra pocket money so you can buy one today! –E. Bradley
I’m a powerlifter and when I wrote my workouts with these my lifts all plummeted. And they gave my boyfriend man-boobs : ( – EntMum
I am so thankful my daughter will never know a world without pens for women. Hopefully Crayola will catch on and start making crayons for girls.-ASC
Yes, BIC definitely fell into a social media pickle due to their misguided marketing attempt, and led people to ask, what in the world were they thinking?
Well, David Vinjamuri at Forbes had a very interesting answer to that. According to him, BIC’s blunder is “what happens when you try to build your brand by looking at it through the lens of data rather than from the perspective of your consumer.”
Vinjamuri continues with this imaginary scenario of a brand group presenting their idea to the higher ups:
Female ABM (Assistant Brand Manager): Our share among women is lagging. We’re losing on both coasts to SnazzyPen: which targets women. We need a stronger offering.
Female Brand Manager (showing board of concept drawings): Here are some designs that did extremely well in testing. Top two box purchase intent is very high for women.
Female Group Product Director: Right – we think we can blow these out in Wal-Mart and Target at back-to-school.
Male VP: Great, but these are way too generic. You can’t even tell who they’re for! The trade is never going to cut these in if it isn’t clear that they’re for women. Why don’t we call them “Bic for Her?”
Female ABM: [looks queasy]
Female Brand Manger: [Shifts nervously, looks for support from Group Product Director]
Female Group Product Director: [Confident that “Bic for Her” will fail in Concept testing]: Absolutely, that’s a great idea. We’ll get right on that.
Male VP: [Nods, satisfied]
[read the full article on Forbes]
So was BIC too busy looking at the numbers to be sensitive to its customers? We of course, don’t know that for sure. However, it does teach us the difference between thinking that you know what your customers want versus actually knowing them.
Research, data, and surveys are great and all, but remember that it’s important to get a holistic view of who your customers are. In order to be successful in marketing and advertising your brand, you need to get to know your target audience inside and out, sometimes even better than they know themselves.
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