Joe Derochowski is a friend, colleague, and also Vice President and home industry advisor for The NPD Group. He’s truly one of the most intuitive, insightful people I know (please don’t tell him I said that, it would make him impossible to work with). Joe often refers to three essential emotional drivers which consistently inform consumer behaviors : ‘I love___’, ‘I hate___’ , and ‘I wish___’. In a PRWeb interview, Joe stated: “It’s about making a strong and positive impact on consumers’ lives. Home products marketers that can solve the ‘I hate’ moments, feed the ‘I love’ thoughts, and answer the ‘I wish’ pleas will see success in the years ahead.”
See? Brilliant. Simple. Actionable.
So… this past Saturday night (Halloween), I was in costume at a party with friends and sporting a wig I had made from three older wigs (why recycle when I can UPcycle?) … Anyway, there I am, twelve inch wig, six inch heels, and I start thinking about Joe Derochowski.
Ok, that doesn’t sound right, let me back this up a little…
A few weeks ago, my husband Bill had asked me to go to a ‘fully safe’ Halloween party at a local bar with several friends. I had strenuously resisted, since it was going to mean a lot of costume work and I was feeling kind of —meh. Still, Halloween is to Bill what Christmas is to normal people, so finally I agreed.
Fast forward to last Saturday night. We have a blast putting on crazy costumes. As we get into an Uber, I realize that I’ll have to lay down to get my hair inside the car with me. We arrive at the event, and I fall (literally, thanks to the heels) into the arms of people I haven’t seen in months. Bill brings me a cocktail, and we’re all toasting, and laughing. I’m talking to smart people about stupid things, and creative things, and NOT life or death things.
And as I’m moving through the evening, falling in love with our life all over again, I hear myself using one word repeatedly.
“Oh my God, I’ve MISSED this!”
“I’m MISSING the energy I used to get from working face-to-face.”
“I MISS our Sunday brunches.”
Then I realize that everyone there is saying it, that same, simple, somehow new verb. Over and over:
“Wow! I MISSED drinks made by an actual bartender!”
“Don’t you MISS telling the kids ‘Just go outside and play with the neighbors!’?
“He says he wants a couple of hours alone every day. He says he MISSES his ‘sanity time’”.
It occurs to me that the meaning of miss, has changed somehow. It sounds less whiny and spoiled, and more thoughtful and appreciative. And that’s when I start thinking about Joe Derochowski, and what he said about consumers being driven by ‘I love, I hate, and I wish’, and I beg my brain not to forget to call him and ask if he’d consider adding one more driver: ‘ I miss’.
Imagining the conversation, I know he’ll think I’m joking, and I’ll tell him I’m not, because this protracted pandemic has activated our sense of nostalgia and it’s becoming clear to me that for many, these recollections are strong emotional tethers to whatever ‘normal’ means, important mental rest stops that nourish our sense of stability, and hope. I’ll tell Joe that the Home and Housewares industry needs to serve the consumers’ need to reconnect with their ‘happy places’ through product. And then, I’ll suggest that maybe the second core driver of Zoom’s meteoric growth is simply people MISSING each other.
And that will be when Joe Derochowski, Vice President and home industry advisor for The NPD Group, will look at me and, pausing as he surfaces from the depths of my insight, say:
“Tom, you are unquestionably the smartest pers—-“
But sadly, I’m jolted out of my mental meanderings when I swallow a silver bugle bead that has apparently fallen off my mask and into my cocktail. The subsequent coughing fit sends me careening off of my skyscraper pumps, and as I give in to my slow motion trip across the room, I realize that because I’m coughing and there’s a pandemic on, nobody is jumping forward to stop my fall – in truth, everyone backs up. Nice.
I recover my verticality, and hobble to the line for the restroom where I can reassemble my dignity.
The woman in front of me on the line looks back and smiles “You okay?”, and I say the first thing that comes to mind.
“I MISS flats.”
Principal & Founder, Springboard Futures