The Bear's Necessities. Behavioural insights from beekeepers on how to embrace consumer goals
Turkish beekeeping folklore is not my usual source of inspiration. I’ll admit I’m rather fond of the fuzzy little guys, and was once even curious enough to join a local ‘bee bombing’ wander, but nothing that quite prepared me to embrace the wholesome wonder of how a local Turkish beekeeper became a global success story.
Allow me to introduce you to Ibrahim Sedef.
Ibrahim lives in Trabzon, Turkey and is an agricultural engineer who works in beekeeping. He rose to fame back in August 2019 after documenting his struggle trying to prevent hungry wild bears from ransacking his hives in their repeated attempts to indulge in the honey.
Previous tactics to distract and dissuade the bears using metal cages over the hives and other decoy snacks to divert bears had continued to fail. After three years he’d lost more than $10,000 worth of produce and was needed to think laterally to prevent further losses and damage.
Rather than persist in disrupting the hungry late night visits, Ibrahim decided to take a step back to observe any opportunities and installed a series of camera traps to learn more about the bears’ behaviour.
Whilst his initial intentions were to try and outsmart them, when reviewing the footage he noticed that the bears kept returning to the same types of hive at the start of every visit.
Ever the scientist, Ibrahim decided that if he couldn’t prevent their raids, he could at least utilise their expertise and learn from their behaviour. He set up his cameras once again, laid out a table with five varieties of honey for the bears and then went to bed knowing he’d now recruited some new unwitting taste testers.
The results were as unanimous as they were helpful.
The bears demonstrated an expensive taste as they consistently ate the premium ($300 per jar) Anzer honey first and were often so satisfied with this variety alone that they would often avoid even touching the other honey.
Whilst it may be difficult to get a client to sign off night vision cameras and access to dangerous wildlife, there’s a lesson here that Ibrahim teaches us in the value that lies in simply observing existing behaviours in their natural habitat.
Rather than bluntly trying to get people to do something differently simply because you want them to, the role of a brand should be in how it helps them achieve theirs. Discovering and investigating those consumer goals is a fascinating (and equally essential) part of the process. This is where Byron Sharp and his colleagues at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute have long stated the importance of category entry points (CEPs) in identifying consumer goals at certain moments where a brand can build “mental availability”.
Having a better awareness of how people use a product or service beforehand is a huge help when it comes to investigating their “why” and sometimes challenging this rationale to better understand where your brand should (and equally shouldn’t) help people achieve their specific goal.
And yes, it’s been immensely more difficult to do this during lockdown but there’s still a number of creative ways to discover things:
Whether it’s asking neighbours to help crowdsource your next house colour on their lunchtime strolls.
Watching out your window and slowly learning their new lockdown habits from afar.
We’re all currently doing a lot of the same things just differently right now. Lockdown might mean that there’s less of the world we’re able to go out and see but there’s still some parts of it we’re able to observe with a little more appreciation.
Written by Jonny Smith, Senior Planner.