Rogue Report Episode 2

Connecting with deep needs


In an episode from season 2 of the Amazon Prime series Fleabag, the titular character is seen working on a busy day at her once mostly empty café. Her sister, dumbfounded asks what has happened, Fleabag explains that she has introduced chatty Wednesdays – After you buy something you need to have a talk with someone who you don’t already know. ”Loneliness pays,” she deadpans.

The idea of chatty Wednesdays in this fictional series is based on an actual program introduced in many independent cafes in the UK after a mother of a young child started to notice strangers around her who seemed lonely and could use an ear. Costa Coffee, a UK chain, introduced the concept in several of its stores.

While many brands are preoccupied at getting people to spend by offering promos or deals, some are forward thinking and are making attempts to meet deep human needs.

What can we learn from brands like costa coffee who have found ways to meet human needs?

The need to play

One of the reasons that humans like to play games is to understand how we compare to others. While we understand we won’t always be first, it is human nature to make sure we aren’t last. Peloton bike, the indoor cycling company understands this and uses gamification to help create stickiness. With the leaderboard feature one can keep an eye on their performance with respect to other cyclists across the world.

What does this mean for your brand?

How can you create a game or a sense of play around your product? It might be simpler than you think. Playing is a social construct and so even simple social cues can be used by your brand to satisfy the need to play. Opower, an Oracle owned company, was founded on certain principles of behavioural economics. An Opower utility bill not only has your power consumption but it compares it to that of your neighbours. This has been proven to lead to significant overall energy savings, with neighbours vying against each other to save the most energy.

The need for safe discovery

Raymond Loewy, one of the most impactful industrial designers of the 20th century (you can thank him for the iconic Greyhound bus, among many other designs), applied a theory to everything he designed; most advanced, yet acceptable (or maya for short). Loewy instinctually knew that to advance anything, you need to first cater to the human need for familiarity. Once that is settled, it can help render any novelty in the design more easily accepted.

The adult public's taste is not necessarily ready to accept the logical solutions to their requirements if the solution implies too vast a departure from what they have been conditioned into accepting as the norm.Raymond Loewy

What does this mean for your brand?

To create change you have to take into account how humans act today. While a new product may be inherently better performing than an older one, it will be shunned if people don’t at least find something familiar about it.

Think of the Segway. It is a great technology but the vehicle itself and the way it is controlled is like nothing like else that came before. With the proliferation of the bike and scooter sharing economy, the Segway is a product that appears like it should have been well placed to surf on this renaissance of individual transportation, but it is hardly a blip on the radar.

Price tag aside, perhaps had the design looked a bit more familiar it would have had a better chance of being among today’s personal vehicles of choice.

The need for interactions

Legend has it that years ago, when Pixar was building their offices Steve Jobs was pushing for only one set of bathrooms. This he posited would lead to an increase in the number of spontaneous interactions between employees and would thus generate better ideas and collaboration.

While in the end, the design for the space included more than 1 set of bathrooms, the idea is still an interesting one whether one is designing for employees or customers.

What does this mean for your brand?

When considering human needs you need to go further than just considering the end benefit of your product or service. How can you build in ways for consumers to interact meaningfully with other customers or even other employees?

Lululemon excels at this with one simple solution; writing the customer’s name and activity for which they are trying on clothes on the change room door. This creating a reason to start a great conversation between staff and customer based on what might be common interests.

The need for belonging

Despite being something that appears to be practiced individually, the value of cycling is the team aspect. When riding in a large group or just with a friend, cyclists can go further and longer. Rapha, the British cycling apparel brand, has created a membership based community of cyclists from around the world.

Everything Rapha does through this program shows the member how important they are to the community. The brand allows members to connect with like-minded cyclists, access rides from their local Chapters, and even share their rides through Strava, the popular cycling and running tracking app.

What does this mean for your brand?

Find ways to allow customers to share with other customers. Let them have control of the community. The Lego Ideas community is another great example. It not only helps connect people to the brand but this connection is strengthened when one knows it is shared by millions of others people worldwide. Additionally, some of the brand’s recent popular building sets started out as concepts submitted by members of the Ideas community.

When considering ways to connect with consumers, it is important to go beneath the surface and consider universal human needs. If you can build a way to meet a human need as a value add in your product or service it can go a long way in allowing your brand to create deeper emotional connections with consumers.

But emotional connections can’t be taken for granted, they imply a significant amount of trust. As we have seen with some of the backlash against Equinox and Soul Cycle with respect to their chairman’s political ties, even die hard fans can be spurned.