Spark illustration

What customers want is simpler than you think

Richard HammondCo-Founder & CEO20 Feb 2023

It's minus 1 right now and I feel warm and safe. It's a primeval feeling sitting by this fire in my yard.

Our house is built on land where Cromwell's New Model Army camped during the siege of Oxford, 400 years ago. Campfires did burn right here, right where my fire pit burns now. Maybe they burned here earlier.

Maybe the river and the fertile land attracted the first farmers, full of hope and optimism for their crops.

What did these people want? They wanted safety, security, health, comfort. They wanted connection, novelty, and status. They wanted distraction and entertainment. They wanted their children to do better than they did themselves. They complained about other people's children. Homer cracks on about the youth of today (his today was 3000 years ago) being unruly, disrespectful, quick to distraction, lacking ambition and drive...

The human does not change much, even over millennia. Stick a VR headset on them and claim the Metaverse is Human 2.0 all you want. The human in that headset wants what Cromwell's soldiers did 400 years ago. Tell yourself Gen Z are a distinct group all you want. I'll find you a Roman scholar who said the exact same thing.

We are not cohorts, we are humans. And what we want, at the fundamental level, has not changed.

Fire pit

Designing great customer experiences

What customers want from you is often much less complicated than you might think. Safety, security, health and comfort for ourselves and our families. Novelty and status. Connection, distraction and entertainment. Simple, fundamental needs that have endured thousands of years.

Successful brands design products and services that mainline directly into these basic human needs. IKEA, Noom, Netflix, Allbirds, Starbucks, PayPal, ASOS, Apple, Zoom, Tesla, Wells Fargo… they are all brilliant at meeting our fundamental desires.

Simplify your approach

A Deloitte study of 2019 found that organizations that focus on the human experience are twice as likely to outperform peers in revenue growth and have 17 times more store growth than those who do not.

Brands can lose sight of this in the drive to segment customers into marketable cohorts. But humans can’t be easily segmented. They might move from one mindstate to another over the course of a day, over the course of an hour.

The key question for organisations should be, what makes customers choose us, or choose our competitors? Does the technology we’re investing in, this AI chatbot, or augmented reality, or personalisation, or loyalty scheme, help us better connect to customers? The answers often come down to those fundamental human needs.

Instead of attempting to create segmented order out of human truth, brands must design products, services and experiences that speak to the needs that have not changed since we arrived.