Recently I was lucky enough to see the Book of Mormon. It’s phenomenal. The sceptic in me is always wary of anything that receives that much hype but as the curtains closed on what had been a genuinely hilarious two hours, my friends and I immediately started recounting our favourite bits and analysing why it had been so good.
On paper, the show should be a disaster. Any musical about religion is always going to divide opinion, but a musical about religion AND written by the guys responsible for South Park is surely a car crash waiting to happen?
When I started working in research, I quickly learnt an important lesson:
New is uncomfortable
Innovation for any brand is crucial, but true innovation is hard to find and as a result is certainly not always verified by consumer appeal. Look at some of the greatest innovations out there and in a traditional consumer research approach, you can almost hear the chimes of disapproval and guaranteed considerable rejection:
“All my music in a small box?”
“Almost £3 for some mushed up fruit?”
So often we test new concepts, packs or advertising that consumers say they like and clients and agencies pat themselves on the back and think their job is done.
In our opinion this is a job done, but perhaps not the job. When it comes to innovation, initial appeal can be deceptive. If consumers initially say they ‘like’ something, it may be counter intuitive but it may be time to run for the hills. The world is full of average products and brands. For something new to work it has to be more than nice, it has to be spectacular. You have to want it. You won’t get this from simply talking to a bunch of strangers in a focus group for an hour. You won’t even get it from talking to lots of strangers in lots of focus groups. What you need is real behaviour over time.
Over time people work it out. They love it or hate it. In a focus group you might settle for average just so you can get out of the room. In real life, nothing short of exceptional will do to make it into your day-to-day routine.
New is uncomfortable, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing… it’s potentially a great thing.
Regardless of where you stand on its controversial content, if you remember one thing about The Book of Mormon remember this – it’s new, it’s uncomfortable and it’s one of the highest grossing, critically acclaimed musicals of this decade. Brands could learn a lot from those guys that ‘killed Kenny’