What can Master Thich Nhat Hanh teach us about brand building and doing better consumer research?

Don’t skip the video below of Master Thich Nhat Hanh sharing on Oprah Winfrey Network. Listen to what the Master says and ponder.

The above video is a talk about “compassionate listening” that helps “relieve the suffering of other people”.

This is exactly the same way we build a brand. We try to listen compassionately from consumers (hopefully) to find a tension, and then enable our brand to solve that tension to “relieve the suffering” of our consumers. However, not as simple as it sounds, “uncompassionate” brands are everywhere. I believe that in most cases, the problem comes from “uncompassionate listening”.

We still often treat consumers as laboratory rats and standard deviations. We listen, read the research report, pick up descriptive adjectives about our consumers, and think that we have known them enough. Too often, we are acting as racist assholes, who see people as a group of those kinds of people, not as individuals. We stop bothering life stories of individuals, because we tell ourselves that one person’s story doesn’t help a brand with $1 billion in annual revenue. Instead of “deep listening”, we seek for adjectives mentioned in the focus group and try to quantify them. Along with on-the-surface listening comes on-the-surface brand.

So how can we listen to our consumers with more compassion? Master Thich Nhat Hanh has taught us. Before doing any consumers research or sitting in front of any “respondents”, repeat the Master’s wisdom in our head:

What is the application? Share your thoughts.


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