The benefits of improving one’s empathy are real.

In a recent article, Roman Krznaric, renowned social philosopher, outlines 3 key empathy-boosting habits:

1.  Get curious about strangers

2.  Listen and be vulnerable

3.  Expand your circle

We take these habits seriously at Ignite 360. 

The habits of curiosity and listening go hand in hand with close-to-customer research. But expanding our circle? In many instances we find ourselves meeting with, and talking to, people who are similar to ourselves.

Let’s face it, many Fortune 500s are in the business of marketing to the widest swath of ‘gen pop’ demographics. Everyone, it seems, wants to influence the average household fitting a typical median income, the 2 bed/2 bath semi-suburban home with disposable income in line with current consumer spending trends. Certainly, even when speaking to this seemingly homogenous audience, empathy is required to get beneath the surface of cultural and socially normative behavior and attitudes. 

That said, we recommend our clients think about, and engage with, those who may not fit the perfect mold of the ‘gen pop’ household decision maker. What about those that do things differently? The early adopter? Those that live in dense urban areas or remote towns? What about the diverse, many-layered, sometimes out of the ordinary, has-a-different-view from yours, bucking the trend consumer? In the age of hyper-personalized and direct marketing, brands must be more divergent and expand their circle in order to survive, let alone thrive. We need to get out of our bubbles. And, as Krznaric points out, empathy demands that you expand your circle.

Last year we expanded our own circle by conducting self-funded research into the ever-growing (no pun intended) legal cannabis market. 

From a business perspective, cannabis is a booming industry to keep an eye on. We were curious. 

States continue to pass legislation legalizing marijuana including both medicinal and recreational use. A recent article cites medical marijuana sales are projected to grow from $4.7 billion in 2016 to $13.3 billion in 2020. Adult recreational sales are estimated to jump from $2.6 billion in 2016 to $11.2 billion by 2020.

Beyond the data and sales projections, however, we wanted to engage cannabis consumers as well as retailers to understand who they are, what motivates them, and what challenges they face given the social stigma and precarious legal and regulatory status of the industry. We wanted to expand our circle and strip away the bias and judgment. We felt it was important to hear the cannabis consumer story and bring that story forward for others to hear.  

So we crafted a video to do just that. 

This video is representative of the empathy work we do, the insights we uncover, and the story behind and underneath the category or consumer group. We look to find the deeper emotional elements that drive choice and behavior. 

Be curious. Listen. Expand your circle.  

In watching it, I hope you will be inspired to stretch beyond your own circle. Consider your brand and business and look for ways to stretch outside your immediate core consumer or loyal customer and explore, what may look like, your fringe customer, the brand switcher and the out right rejecter. You may just identify the underlying reasons behind their behavior that spark ideas on how to win them over. No doubt, you will expand your circle and your perspective. 

As our organization continues to help clients increase their own empathy quotient, we have personally witnessed the transformative power empathy has on team work, leadership skills, and customer communication. 

For more information on good Empathy habits to transform your business, including our Empathy Camp workshops, contact us at or join the conversation on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.