From person to consumer: looking through the empathy lens
OMD Spain
8 Settembre 2021

This article has been translated into English and was originally published on IPMARK.

Sergio Martínez del Moral, Business Transformation Lead, OMD Spain, reflects on the importance for brands to have a more human and empathetic approach.


I do not know if you have ever stopped to reflect on how the “Real Academia Española”, whose work taught me so much, defines our beloved “advertising” in its dictionary; “The dissemination of news/ advertisements to attract potential buyers, viewers, users, etc.” Without entering the debate on whether that best describes our work today, I do like the dimension that it establishes, between the more transactional world and the attraction of people.

I will not tire of saying that the objective of our work is to grow the business of our clients. The strategies that pivot on the consumer are undeniable as winners but is not the consumer also, or even before this, a person? Understanding this semantic discrepancy can come from the difference in working on the business results of the clients in the short or long term, sometimes, we forget when we are faced with client briefings, pitches. It is commonly forgotten that behind each buyer, traditional or online, there is a person with many concerns, not just one. Getting there, from start to finish, is a key point in the development of those experiences that differentiate brands, and which make consumers not hesitate at the time of purchase. For example, Apple, is the brand of choice for its tech gadgets, regardless of the price.

Without being an easy task, many of us will have worked with brands in almost endless projects to define consumer territories, and it is undoubtedly much more important now, at a time when the consumer is opening up to brands as if it were almost that best friend to whom we trust our greatest secret, choosing brands for not only what they sell, but also for what they are, and more importantly, what they do for others.

And with this fundamental understanding that people are primarily people, I believe that innovative technology today allows us to impact in real time and in the right place. For example, the consumer that did not finish a purchase on AliExpress is later reminded of the product they wanted to buy. We must work better as an industry with the data sources that allow us to inform the implementation of strategies about the concerns of people, beyond consumption and in all phases of the consumer journey. The application of media is indisputable, given the undoubted digitisation that is seen today. Building as many experiences per persona as possible, based on the concerns of consumers will be the key to success for brands in the future.

But, as I said before, it is something that must work right up until the end of our process, and, for me, the end of our work unquestionably involves measurement. And in this sense, does the measurement collected today match those concerns of the consumers as people? Sometimes yes, but in the vast majority no. That is why I like the OMD approach within the collaboration with Amplified Intelligence, to understand the new mobilising indicators such as attention and mental availability of people and their relationships with brands. The study also highlights one of the biggest challenges of the industry today, the eruption of technology has allowed there the number of touchpoints to multiply and therefore, the possibilities.

And although easy to say, I think it is not impossible to do it, the most important thing is not to forget these points throughout the entire work process, from ideation, implementation, and even, as mentioned earlier, the measurement itself. And as the great inspirational Peter Drucker said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, so having the opportunity at OMD to have empathy as a cultural value in the organisation, greatly facilitates this constant work in our day-to-day life based on people, because as Drucker said, empathy is something that is within OMD and arguably above our strategic thinking process.

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