ECCO, Emotional Granularity, Podcast Recos, & Goths
Welcome to Perspicacity, a weekly newsletter by Kurt Reckziegel about insights & how they're derived. If you haven’t subscribed, please do!
Perspicacity noun /pur-spi-kas-i-tee/
🔮 the quality of having a ready insight into things; shrewdness.
Every week, we toss a few questions over to someone in the insights community to get their perspective on the world of research.
This week we welcome Mike Keisman who leads Consumer Innovation & Insights at ECCO Shoes. Read on as Mike talks about having too many leftover questions, calls being wrong the most interesting part of the job, and implores that you take time to work abroad.
In today’s issue, you’ll also read about:
🧠 Emotional Granularity
🧰 Human Behavior Podcasts
💥 Goths x Recession
💡 Inside Insights
Perspicacity: Who are you, what do you do, and how did you get there?
Mike Keisman: Hey Kurt! Thanks for having me! I’m Mike Keisman, the head of Consumer Innovation & Insights at ECCO Shoes, based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
I started my career in the analytics & insights world at various NYC advertising agencies, where I met the incredibly smart host of this newsletter, Kurt, back at Carrot Creative/VICE Media/Virtue! Those were some fun times, right?
I fell into the world of analytics & insights, nearly accidentally. I’ve always been someone to question everything, find the problems in everything, and try to provide solutions to those problems. So, I guess insights work came naturally to me. While originally in the data/analytics side of things, there simply weren’t enough answers that could be provided by simply analyzing numbers & performance. Too many leftover questions. I had to get deeper into the human psyche. This obviously led me to psychographic research, and I just had to know how mental, emotional & functional personality traits affect their physical behaviors.
About three years ago, I took a risk and made a move from my home in NYC to London for a behavior change project for VICE, which then eventually brought me to ECCO Shoes in Copenhagen.
Perspicacity: How is the research & insights function structured at ECCO Shoes?
Mike Keisman: Research & insights is new to ECCO. With 60 years of some of the best shoemaking, we relied heavily on gut feeling. But as consumers evolved, we needed to as well. So, I launched the new iteration of the function a year ago, when I started.
As a company that owns the entire value chain, from development to production, to distribution, marketing & sales, we have the opportunity to affect decision making & change in almost every part of the business.
We try to fit consumer insights into every single decision we make within our End-To-End development process. Whether it’s with research & development of new technologies, helping to design new shoes & products, creating optimal seasonal ranges, understanding how consumers react to our global marketing, regional market management/forecasting, and even in-store consumer behavior.
But I’m also realistic, and I’m not under the same impression as some researchers who think that every decision needs to be driven directly by an insight. We’re a part of the collaborative process, especially in the fashion world, one that straddles the art/science divide. We’re an input, in a long list of inputs, that should be taken and really thought about and assessed. Our goal is to accumulate all that we can understand from tons of different perspectives and make our decision-makers super informed. They’ll then naturally make smart decisions.
Perspicacity: What is a topic you’d love to find an excuse to research? Why?
Mike Keisman: The effect of music on decision-making. I think what we’re exposed to musically has a tremendous impact on how we behave and function, and it’s especially different from person to person.
Perspicacity: Is there a key tool or resource you couldn’t live without?
Mike Keisman: The best tool/resource I use at ECCO is WGSN, both their subscription platform & their bespoke mindset division. They are the best in the world in trend forecasting, consumer research & more, and I highly suggest everyone in fashion (and tons of other fields too) should use them. They’re absolutely brilliant over there.
Perspicacity: When have you been undoubtedly wrong? How did you react?
Mike Keisman: Oh, literally all the time. That’s the point of insight work, right? To make guesses which can either be proved right or wrong. Being told you were wrong is arguably the best and most interesting part of the job. Be bold with your hypotheses & be humbled by the truth.
Perspicacity: Anything else I should be asking you?
Mike Keisman: This is really more a piece of advice for all researchers & strategists out there. I highly, highly suggest that young insights professionals or anyone take some time to go work abroad if they can. One’s perspective on people, personalities & behavior really start to change when you begin to understand how other people live outside of your typical comfort zone. It’s enlightening.
It will make you a better people researcher in ways you’d never know. It’s been the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done personally & professionally and I can’t recommend it enough.
Perspicacity: Thanks Mike!
🧠 Thought Patterns
Let’s face it, how we exist in the world is driven by our emotions. And so, if we—as researchers—seek to understand human behavior, we have to strive to unravel the tangled nest of colorful wires that is human emotion.
I won’t fully unravel things here, but I will share what I hope will be some useful concepts and resources.
The concept of Emotional Granularity suggests that “high emotional granularity is beneficial for coping with emotional experiences because it allows one to label their emotions more accurately and deal accordingly.”
Our ability to name these granular emotions is integral to our ability to differentiate between them. In the first episode of a podcast called More Than a Feeling (btw, great podcast about emotions), host Saleem Reshamwala speaks with psychologist Tim Lomas about his Positive Lexicography project. Tim has created (& is still creating) an online index collecting untranslatable words related to feeling good from non-English languages.
Naming things and identifying them is a crucial part of the process. It’s like our maps are more accurate, and we can navigate our way around our lives in a better way.
Related to naming the nuances of emotion: In Brené Brown’s most recent book (and TV show), Atlas of the Heart, she and her team outlined 87 emotions and experiences that “define what it means to be human.”
Also in the More Than a Feeling episode mentioned above, Saleem speaks with developmental psychologist Ashley Ruba, who outlines another interesting emotion-related concept: the differentiation between Essentialist and Constructivist views of emotions.
Essentialist: all humans were born with the same set of emotions.
Constructivist: humans shape their own emotional experience based on past experiences.
Read Ashley’s full dissertation here. And you can read social scientist Ho Manh Tung’s perspective on this concept’s implication for parents here.
🧰 The Toolkit
Research tools and partners are integral to the work we do in the insights profession. Fact.
Also, fact: the content we consume can have an outsized impact on our ability to produce great work.
Here are a few smart podcasts about human behavior that you may want to consider subbing to:
I’ve also just discovered Kinsey Grant, and I’ve really been enjoying her podcast Thinking Is Cool.
⚡ As always, you can find my full toolkit here
🍽️ And in this case, it would probably be interesting to share my media diet
💥 Observations & Provocations
Offering up the below tweet sans commentary:
If you have a friend or colleague who would find this interesting, please be a pal and share.