People are drawn to things that are different.
But difference also makes us feel uneasy.
It challenges our preference for harmony.
We need time to assimilate change into our worldview.
So it’s ironic that marketers, who depend on promoting change, rely so heavily on tools and techniques that fail to appreciate this aspect of human psychology.
Pre-testing truly innovative creative will very likely provoke negative responses, because respondents don’t have time to assimilate the innovation and realign accordingly. It’s easier to reject sudden change than it is to try to understand it.
Similarly, if we use econometric modelling to define our approach rather than refine it, the inherent focus on ‘mass opinion’ drives us towards a lowest common denominator: a mediocre solution that is acceptable to the majority.
But mediocrity is unremarkable, and therefore doesn’t make a difference.
And if you don’t make a difference, why bother at all?
*update: PSFK has just published a great example of pre-testing that killed off creative innovation