The Most Important Eyeballs Are Your Own.
Forget focus groups, quantitative research and ethnography, the future of marketing lies with noise-cancelling headphones. Yesterday, I donned a pair as part of this art installation at St Pancras station and I saw the light.
The idea of the piece was to transpose the characters from the headphones onto the people moving through the station, its retail units and its food outlets. For a while it worked very well, but then I realised I was cancelling out the soundtrack and focusing solely on the silent interaction of the people around me.
Without the overhearings and the hubbub, it was a different sort of noticing - something akin to that experience of being in a country where you don't speak the language, but without the helplessness.
As long as you remember to leave your preconceptions at the door, you can learn a lot from the mass of non-verbal communication that's highlighted by the silence. It's not the future of marketing research, but it is revelatory.