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An experiment in being curious

My two most recent ‘consumer view’ takeaways; both, I now realise, rooted in the importance of wider world context

1. Brands that perform are so much more impressive when their bedfellows are rubbish

2. To stay relevant, brands need to be sensitive to what else their consumers are hearing

How did I get to them?

As someone who spends quite a lot of time encouraging other people to be ‘consumer curious’, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to practise curiosity.

Brought to me by Microsoft in a half-hour block of yellow in my Outlook calendar, Focus Time was today’s experiment. I instinctively liked the idea, promising to help me be my best self – curious in a purposeful, disciplined sort of way. The branded and unbranded world is nudging me all the time, shaping what I think, feel and do – most of it at a non-conscious level. Focus Time presents me with an opportunity to be more observant about what’s going on… So, to it.

First of all, I pondered my recent and growing love-in with Siri, the virtual assistant on my iphone. She is proving surprisingly smart, saving me time and making me feel seriously slick Rick on the tech front. Buoyed up by her reliable ability to open apps, I’ve started bypassing the apps altogether and asking Siri the questions instead, like ‘What’s 294 divided by 7?’*. And she can do that too! The whole thing feels very fast and clever. All the more so given my many ill-fated attempts to glean info from Alexa, my disappointingly dense smart speaker.

Having thought about a brand on the up, it felt natural to consider a brand heading in the other direction. Sadly, I’m falling out of love with Whistles. It used to be my style soulmate with a seemingly sixth sense for wardrobe whims. Reflecting, I realise it’s decline is down to the weekly stuffing of my inbox with news of new sales, new staples and new looks – it’s all more, more, more - whilst elsewhere my media diet is talking to me about moderation - renting clothes and circular fashion. I know Whistles has a sustainable line but it’s not enough to combat the deluge of ‘all you can buy’ messages. It feels unpalatable and it’s giving me brand heartburn.

So there we have it – the results of my 30 mins focus time spent being deliberately curious.

Curiosity experiment complete. Microsoft Focus Time, you’re in the bag of curiosity tricks.

*42 – clearly, it’s always the answer. Don’t know why I asked…


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