The ONLY Negative Consumer Feedback You Should Immediately React To

You will most likely accumulate tons of negative feedback about your brand over the years unless you are the next SkinnyPop and found a gaping, ‘easy’ innovation hole in a sleepy category managed by the arrogant (at the time, at least). 

The key is finding the right way to filter negative feedback into two buckets: 1) act on this now vs. 2) wait and quantify importance later.

The single-most important category of negative feedback you must act on immediately across ALL categories and across Time and Space is….drum roll….sensory feedback. 

But, to filter negative sensory feedback, you must calibrate your brain. And, I’m going to suggest an extremely anthropological technique: find your anti-consumer. 

See, you need just one person to consume your product to determine if your sensory experience has a big problem you’re ignoring. And that magical person is none other than your annoying, Cheetos-stuffing Uncle Larry who, let’s face it, seems to harken back to some twentieth-century decade no one cares about anymore. 

We all have an ‘Uncle Larry’ in our family somewhere. He drinks Bud Light. He eats the same snack brands he had as a teenager, just more of them. He has NEVER gone on a diet and never will. Even if your parents are immigrants, you have your equivalent, hyper-traditionalist ‘Uncle Larry,’ the guy in the family who only embraces modern technology but is otherwise not into anything else modern at all. 

If Uncle Larry will down your food or beverage or lather up with your soap bar, you, my friends, have a real hit. Not because he will ever buy it. He won’t. He will mock you incessantly every chance he gets because that’s what traditionalist, patriarchal dudes do.

But if he enjoys consuming your product and is only mocking the symbolism and the outcomes you’re chasing, he’s gold. Of course, his anti-modern stance made you dismiss him years ago as a source of any meaningful input. But you’re wrong. Tsk. Tsk. 

Uncle Larry doesn’t bullish*t you, AND he lives in the past (as far as CPG brands go). This is a perfect jewel of a test anti-consumer for an emerging, premium-priced CPG brand. Why? Because he doesn’t care about your trendy symbolism and his sensory sign-off means you’ve gotten past the absolute worst barrier to extended habitual repeat and the eventual scaling of your consumer brand: a sensory experience marginal to mainstream (i.e., old) category expectations. 

I have performed this ‘test’ on my own relatives, and it never fails. Time to make up with Uncle Larry, folks.

Dr. James Richardson

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