Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Best Marketing Tip: “Embrace the four modalities of curiosity”

By NDA columnist Tom Ollerton, founder, Automated Creative

Sarah DaVanzo, VP, Consumer & Market Insights & Foresight (Futures & Cultural Intelligence) at L’Oréal Groupe USA, is a “superforecaster”: she has a futures prediction accuracy of 73% and is an inventor of cultural intelligence, foresight, and innovation methodologies. Inside the L’Oréal Group, she drives curiosity, exploration, and discovery, through embracing the ‘four modalities of curiosity’ and driving the business to also measure how curious their audience is about them. 

During Sarah’s extremely diverse international career, she has worked around the world innovating in data, analytics, insights and foresight. Combining creative and strategic approaches to business, marketing was a natural fit for her. However, she doesn’t agree with the seemingly ubiquitous separation between creative and technical teams in most marketing environments. Instead, she believes in finding creative ways for data visualisation, which will then drive better understanding of insights and foresights and help build better products.

A big part of Sarah’s insight mining activity relies on employing the full modalities of curiosity: intellectual, but also seeing, feeling, and doing. While everyone is exploring intellectually and asking questions, other types of exploration might not be so obvious. Visual exploration, deeply observing and seeing patterns and noticing behaviours is one additional way of expressing curiosity.

Additionally, Sarah advocates exploring through feeling and doing, too. Feeling relates to exploring emotions and moods, engaging all senses. Doing means building and experimenting. Together with seeing and intellectual curiosity, these four modalities make up applied curiosity, which enables brands to really understand their consumers and show true curiosity towards them.

A good comparison is going to a party where there are lots of people, where you speak to many, but there is one person leaning in, asking questions and being genuinely curious about you. Naturally, you will remember and like that person more than anyone else. Brands are in the same competition: getting consumers’ attention, while showing them that they are valued and appreciated. 

Conversely, brands need to make sure that consumers are curious about their products. This can be done through social listening, understanding what the audience is talking about and how they are experiencing your products. It’s also useful to conduct search listening, for example using websites like AnswerThePublic, where brands can find out the types of questions people are asking and extrapolate their relationship with their products from that. For example, questions like “what is x?” show that there is low familiarity and engagement with the product. The sophistication of the questions asked indicate the level of engagement from the audience with your product. 

Listen to Sarah share more marketing and futurism insights, as well as talk about her projects – Curious Futures and Insight Alchemy, on the full podcast here

The Shiny New Object podcast is a production of Automated Creative, an adtech platform that turns brands’ media impressions into marketing intelligence.

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