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Empathy-Based Research: The Empathy Generator Play

This article is part of our series on Empathy- based Research.
You can view the full series or download the report.

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This week we highlight how passing on empathy to others can fuel business success, with the focus on our 8th and final play from our brand-new Empathy Playbook.

As a reminder, as innovation and research become increasingly dominated by quantitative data analytics and algorithms, we believe market researchers need empathy more than ever to see the humans behind the numbers. Empathy is our ability to see and feel things from someone else’s perspective, and the key benefit is that it generates emotional insight into the feelings, motivations and needs that drive behaviour.

As a result, we’ve put together this playbook of practical empathy-based activities to help you research and innovate better from a consumer perspective.

Play 8: The Empathy Generator Play

When you need the play:

As a researcher, sometimes you want to create empathy in others, as well as use it yourself. The empathy generator play is about promoting consumer-closeness with colleagues and clients by staging empathy experiences designed to bridge the divide between company and consumers. This play can be used to foster consumer-closeness on a day-to-day basis, but it can work particularly well when presenting findings or pitching ideas.

The empathy generator play works by bringing a consumer perspective inside in a way that moves your audience to see things from a consumer perspective.

How it works:

“If you want to generate empathy, make it experiential”

The simple goal is to bring a consumer perspective to life experientially. There is no cookie-cutter formula for running the empathy generator play. You are limited only by your imagination, budget and time.

As the value of empathy becomes increasingly appreciated in business and beyond, innovative new solutions are emerging to generate and promote empathy. We call it EmpathyTech, and below we have compiled some of our favourite examples:

  • The Empathy Museum – a pop-up museum in a giant shoebox that contains shoes and podcasts. During breaks, employees can borrow shoes to literally walk in the shoes of another whilst listening to a short podcast of the shoe owner’s experience
  • The Short Story Station – a vending machine that dispenses one-minute short stories on recycled paper depicting the life of another
  • VR Empathy – a virtual experience by Eli Lilly to foster patient empathy among busy doctors. The VR experience offers doctors an immersive first-person experience of what it feels like to be diagnosed with a serious condition
  • The Pen Pal – PepsiCo runs a digital Pen Pal programme between executives and target consumers
  • The Tiger in the Room – to convince a sceptical Disney CEO of the merits of opening a Disney zoo, the pitch presentation included walking a live 200kg Bengal tiger into the room! It worked, and work on Disney’s Animal Kingdom park began shortly after this experiential encounter.

Other simpler alternatives include “co-creation” workshops and “empathy labs”, where executives work alongside consumers to improve their products and services. Regardless of how far you want to take it, what is clear is that the whole organisation can benefit from creating a little more empathy!

If you want to be a more empathic business and introduce human-first insight and innovation – Brand Genetics can help. Get in touch today to find out more!

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