Author: Kees van Duyn

15 Oct 2020

Why Culture eats Consumer Insight for breakfast (Part 3)

Part 3: It’s culture, stupid When Neo took the red pill he could see things as they really were. A hidden truth had revealed itself. This is the central premise of the The Matrix. The Matrix is of course a metaphor for a covert yet omnipresent belief system that tells us what is right and wrong, beautiful […]

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05 Oct 2020

Part 2: Why Culture eats Consumer Insight for breakfast

The limitations of psychology In 2015, 1% of British people believed that membership of the EU was the most important issue facing the country. In 2019, a poll among members of the Conservative Party showed that 61% would accept significant damage to the British economy in order to get out of the EU[1]. What the […]

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24 Sep 2020

Part 1: Why Culture eats Consumer Insight for breakfast

It’s one of the most enduring beliefs in marketing: that brands are doomed without ‘consumer insight’. Are they really? (spoiler alert: not necessarily) In this three-part blog I’ll argue that: brands don’t need consumer insight to create competitive advantage (Part 1) psychology is overrated as a tool for understanding people (Part 2) marketing ignores culture […]

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25 Nov 2019

The Power of Magic – Rory Sutherland on the need for more alchemy in insight

‘If you believe in the power of magic, I can change your mind’, sang The Allan Parsons Project. In his book Alchemy; the surprising power of ideas that don’t make sense, Rory Sutherland asserts that a healthy dose of ‘psycho-logical smoke and mirrors’ is a powerful way to hack people’s subconscious. Yet he also accuses the insight […]

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15 Nov 2019

The Fine Art of Deep Listening

Getting the most out of qual groups and communities means listening laterally, not literally. For what it’s worth, here are a few tips & tricks Nothing is what it seems – the world works in covert ways What people say is largely irrelevant, but the fact that they are saying it might point to something meaningful […]

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12 Nov 2019

Bullshit That Works – a psycho-logical interview with Rory Sutherland

In marketing, a little ‘benign bullshit’ works magic. That’s what Rory Sutherland claims in Alchemy, a book that is best described as a cocktail of behavioural science, evolutionary psychology and systems thinking. What is alchemy, and why do people pay more for car insurance if it’s advertised with a duck? (Dutch version first appeared in Adformatie on […]

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30 Sep 2019

“Insight needs to transform itself to become more culturally attuned and future focused”

An interview with Bill Marshall, Unilever’s Global Head of Human and Cultural Foresight (Dutch version appeared in Clou 94) Companies that are successful in anticipating cultural change have a powerful advantage. However, as a discipline within the intelligence domain, cultural foresight is underutilized. Are companies ignoring culture at their own peril? Bill Marshall, Unilever’s Global […]

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14 May 2019

Agile innovation benefits from Cultural Forensics (Dutch language blog)

Steeds meer bedrijven en marketeers omarmen agile. Tegelijkertijd is er behoefte aan richting en houvast. Een strategisch-cultureel kader voorkomt dat agile innovatie uit de bocht vliegt. ‘We leven in een V.U.C.A. wereld’ is een populaire catchphrase. Veel organisaties begrijpen de wereld niet meer en dobberen richtingloos de toekomst tegemoet (Blokker) of gaan onderuit in de […]

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14 May 2019

People Myopia: the case for Cultural Forensics

Blinded by an obsession with ‘people as people’ and an infatuation with the brain, marketing and insight are at risk of missing two important pieces of the puzzle – ‘situations’ and culture. It’s reassuring to think of people as autonomous agents who, driven by idiosyncratic needs and desires, ‘decide’ their way through life. As marketers […]

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25 Feb 2019


In Part 1 I asserted that the insight industry is peddling attractive yet half-baked truths that bear little resemblance to the real world. This is underpinned by:  Our failure to apply evidence-based thinking Misconceptions around the contribution of ordinary people to marketing Excessive focus on individuals, decision-making and the brain Consequently, the insights business is […]

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