Meet the Joneses

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Every year, InSites Consulting organizes the “Meet the Joneses” test to see whether marketers know what the family is up to. How does it work? 300 consumers from Belgium and the Netherlands were asked questions about their daily life. Next, marketers were invited to answer the same set of questions and imagine how their target consumers would have responded. This year 694 Belgian and 375 Dutch marketers took the test and were soon to be disappointed. No one passed!

Being “connected” is not easy

Why? It turns out that being “connected” with consumers is far from easy.

The problem is certainly not a lack of confidence among marketers. Prior to taking the test, marketers rated their knowledge an average 7 out of 10. More than two in three marketers claimed to know what consumers want and how to build strong brands. Half of marketers even believed they could predict consumers’ behaviour.

Yet when asked to what extent they see a similarity or a difference with consumers, the majority of marketers don’t see much overlap. If marketers are not the same as their consumers, how can they know what the others think and feel? It’s only by meeting the Joneses and staying in touch that you can really understand them. Talk to the Joneses The “Meet the Joneses” report offers you a way to get to know them better. It covers seven topics about consumer’s daily life and evaluates marketer’s knowledge thereof.

Let’s listen to what the Joneses had to say during our last conversation.

Mary JonesAfter handing out a cup of coffee, Mary offers her famous home-made cookies. “These come straight out of the oven. Too bad I can’t have any myself. I’m currently on a diet, you know.” Mary is trying to avoid unhealthy food and drinks a lot of water. She also finds it important to know how many calories food products contain, but when asked to guess the amount of calories in a bag of crisps, she overestimates the actual number by a factor of four.

To stay fit, Jack used to go running twice a week, but now counts himself among the one in three Belgian and Dutch people who don’t do any exercise.

Jack JonesI wonder whether he has enough time to do sports. Jack admits he has. In fact, he is quite happy about combining his personal and professional life at his current job. He cites a recent employee satisfaction survey, in which half of Jack’s Belgian colleagues say they are satisfied about their work-life balance. In the Dutch division, however, slightly more employees were happy about the balance between work and life with only 19% dissatisfied workers (compared to 27% in Belgium). Jack proudly states he is a ‘new man’, as he gives up much of his free time to help Mary around the house. He puts the bins out, washes the car, sets the table, does some occasional shopping and cooking and let’s not forget his contribution to doing the laundry. Mary quickly interrupts her bragging husband: “Do you consider throwing your dirty socks in the laundry bin as doing the laundry”?

Time to change topic, so we move on to something more fun: holidays and going out. When asked about their favorite type of holiday, Jack and Mary immediately respond: “holiday in the sun!”. and gleefully bring up memories from their last trip. Ricky enters the room just in time for me to ask him about his plans for the weekend. He laughs and says nowadays youngsters like him don’t make plans so soon, but he typically meets up with friends. Jack needs to relax after a long week at the office, while Mary also finds it important to spend quality time with Jack.

Next, we touch on shopping. I show them the opinions from consumers about what they love and hate about supermarkets. Belgian shoppers are most delighted by fresh products, while the Dutch find short queues at the register most important. In both countries, they really hate long queues. Mary nods in agreement and adds that she also finds clearly marked prices convenient, while she can get very upset when cashiers are unfriendly to her.

Like four out of five people, the Joneses agree that they can no longer do without the Internet. Jack read the “Social Media Around the World” report and was surprised to find out that 69% of Belgian and 79% of Dutch Internet users are active on at least one social network. Like three in five Belgian and Dutch social network members, he can’t access his these websites at work. He’s also jealous about the minority of members (about 10%) who connect to their social network via a smartphone. Mary doesn’t let him buy one. She wants to get a new desktop for the kids first, because two in three Belgian and Dutch families who are online already have one.

I was also interested in knowing how the Joneses look at the environment. Jack and Mary are among the two in three people who are aware of the impact of the products they buy and use. They believe reducing and recycling waste is the best way to improve the environment. Finally, we talk about Jack’s next car. He thinks he will probably still take a petrol or diesel car, but he might also consider going for a hybrid car.

To end with something fun, we do a little association game. I show a brand to Jack and Mary and they have to select one of twelve animals they associate most with that brand. When we get to the Heineken logo, Mary, who has some Dutch roots, thinks of lion. By contrast, Jack, a Belgian beer aficionado, immediately goes for the goldfish.

We say goodbye and agree to meet up in the beginning of next year to make plans for a new edition of the “Meet the Joneses” test in 2011. Oh yeah, before I forget, the Joneses insisted I wish you all a merry Christmas and Happy New Year.