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Darwin taught me how to find marketing insights
One of a kind tactic to find your next marketing idea
Here is a simple explanation of how Charles Darwin (evolutionary biologist) arrived at his widely known ‘Theory of evolution’.
The guy goes to the Galapagos island. He finds that the finches (A type of bird) that had developed in isolation from the mainland, but often differed on almost identical islands next door to one another and whose characteristics he could only explain by a gradual transformation of the species.
He notices that the shape of the beak varied according to the food available on that particular island.
And this exactly sparks the moment of insight for Darwin -
He asked this golden question -
What would need to be true for the ‘existence of different kinds of beaks’ to pertain?
In other words - What mechanism will need to exist for nature to allow this to happen?
This question leads to reverse reasoning or what is called ‘Abducted inference.’
It helped in coming up with hypotheses and theories which could lead to a possible explanation of what has happened on those islands.
One of the theories was -
“Nature doesn’t care about accuracy. It wants you to survive. The one who adapts to the environment and is fit enough, survives.”
That’s how he arrived at - Survival of the fittest.
How to use abducted inference in marketing -
Ask - We want people to do ‘x’ thing, what prior stimuli will they need in order to get to that place?
This helps in building a few hypotheses that you can test to arrive at the mechanism that works.
Let’s just take one example of how it works and makes things easy -
You are tasked with a fresh campaign for Coca-cola.
Your brief is - We want people to associate Coke with positivity.
Now you ask - We want people to feel positive about drinking Coke, what prior stimuli will they need in order to get to that place and elicit that emotion?
Once you have asked this question, you will start to come up with hypotheses.
Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. Leave that to testing. The importance of reverse reasoning lies in how it helps in building the hypotheses pipeline.
Here is the one hypothesis that Coke tested, luckily it worked and hit the right notes.
What is the prior stimulus?
We want people to pick the following perspective about life and see Coke in this particular context (Context matters!) i.e. -
“Life is about spreading happiness and being positive about tomorrow.”
“For each bad thing around us, there are more good things happening at the same time. There are more reasons to be happy about life. So let’s celebrate the happiness and share a Coke with the people around us.”
Also, let’s show kids, cause they are happy for no reason. :P
Here is the actual campaign -
So, next time you want to build a hypothesis pipeline for any campaign, go for abducted inference.
Caveat - Reverse reasoning give you multiple testable hypotheses, it by no means guarantees the success of the campaign. Darwin’s theory is still challenged by people. Nonetheless, I find it extremely helpful in coming up with ideas.
Until next week….