Being a creature of habit, I tend to take the same walk each morning. The alarm goes off at the same time; the snooze button is hit the same amount of time and I tend to be out the door the same time most mornings. Taking the same route, listening to the same playlist, my mind tends to wander from what’s on for the week, the weekend plans and other random things.
On these walks, I find I’m not the only habitual early riser, seeing the same people running, walking, rowing, walking the dog. While familiarity might breed contempt, the regularity of seeing the same people is the trigger to build stories and want to know more about each person. Is he dating this much younger woman or is she the personal trainer? Do they talk their entire run together and does that make them go slower? Does the dog owner realise he looks a little bit like his pet?
The more you see the same people, the more pictures I paint in my mind. There’s the Bruce Springsteen look-alike who runs every weekday. The only thing predictable about The Boss is his unpredictability. Just as I wondered whether he had multiple copies of his grey running attire or whether he washed every morning post run, he wore a different red outfit. When I thought he turned around at the same place each morning, on Thursday, he went the extra mile. He’s no doubt born to run but his randomness makes him more intriguing each day.
There’s also the Bee Keeper. I see her mainly on the weekends along the same route. When it’s humid and I’m swatting the flies away with my beads of sweat, she’s casually strolling with her protective mesh-like hat. It covers her face, allowing her arms to effortless swing up and down, rather than continually swat. I can’t see whether she’s suffering from the heat as much as I do but there’s an elegance to how she strolls along the Yarra. On less humid days, the hat is replaced with large sunglasses so I’m yet to get a good view of what she looks like.
These are the stories that I create in my mind and the stories that The Interpreters deliver to our clients. As researchers, it’s our job to ask the right questions and to dig deep into the lives of consumers and brands. We want to know the brands The Boss buys; what his repertoire is, how he feels about his running attire, the loads of washing he does per week and what motivates him to run each weekday. It’s through both the questions we ask and the analysis we do that we’re able to tell stories rather than present data.
Researchers are naturally inquisitive people – it’s why we want to know more. It’s why I want to know how the Bee Keeper checks the humidity before her weekend stroll; does she use a weather app? Does she walk the same route on weekdays but walks in the afternoon? Is that because she’s retired, working part-time – or maybe on the night shift and the morning walk is her end of day? What does she think about when she walks as she’s not listening to any music?
Storytelling is hard and even harder when it comes to quantitative data. The default has always been a chart within a presentation – the security of numbers. But those numbers are simply the culmination of a number of questions that have potentially originated from a morning walk. Or while listening to a Bruce Springsteen track. So let’s build stories together to provide richer and deeper insights into the questions that our clients want answered. Lets get to know The Boss and the Bee Keeper that little bit better.
By Paul Dixon