May 05, 2009

Truth and lies about why we buy

In his fascinating new book - buy.ology - that is creating waves the world over, Martin Lindstrom, takes a deep look at how consumers perceive logos, advertisements, commercials, brands and products. Lindstrom conducted a three-year, $7 million neuromarketing study that measured the brain activity of 2,000 volunteers from around the world. Some of the results confirmed marketing-industry hunches; others flew in the face of conventional wisdom.

Martin found the following:

-- Product placement only works when fully integrated. It works when Coke-bottle-shaped furniture is part of the set design on American Idol, for example. However, when a product is not integrated, such as FedEx packages appearing in the background of Casino Royale, there is no measurable effect with regard to viewer recollection of brand.

-- Cigarette warning labels do not deter smoking but actually encourage smokers to light up. The reason? The 'craving spot' in the brain, is stimulated by the sight of the warning.

-- Contrary to popular belief, sex usually doesn't sell products. But controversies about sex in advertising do Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch are some examples.

-- Traditional advertisements no longer create lasting impressions. By age 66, most people with a TV will have seen nearly 2 million commercials. That makes it hard for an advertisement to increase a viewer's memory of a brand, despite the millions spent.

-- Successful branding functions like religion and attracts zealous followers. Scans using fMRI technology showed that some viewers had the same neurological response to strong brands that they did to religious iconography. Simple rituals, such as putting a lime wedge in a Corona or slowly pouring a Guinness, give the brand added cachet.

-- Subliminal advertising can be highly effective. When watching an advertisement, viewers automatically raise their guard against its message. With subliminal advertisements, viewers' guards are down, so their responses are more direct.

-- Marketing isn't restricted to the visual. Many companies use smells to sell products. Fast-food restaurants and supermarket bakeries use artificial fresh-cooked food smells. Sounds also effect buying. A study showed shoppers purchased French or German wine depending on which nationality's music was playing on store speakers.
It's likely that the information in this book will be used in future marketing campaigns, so even if you aren't in the marketing business, read it.

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