If you want to understand why your clients gravitate toward one brand over another, pick up the new book by Martin Lindstrom called Buy.ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy (Doubleday, 2008). Lindstrom is one of the world's most respected marketing gurus, and he advises top executives at companies like Procter & Gamble, the Walt Disney Company and Microsoft. He points out that eight out of 10 new product launches fail within the first three months. It's a sobering thought, right? So is there anything we can do to improve our odds? After subjecting 2,000 volunteers from around the world to a groundbreaking, three-year, $7 million neuromarketing study that recorded their reactions to various ads, logos, commercials, brands and products, Lindstrom concluded that the reason some of us choose Coke over Pepsi is a lot more complicated than we previously thought.
Product placement, he says, doesn't work. That's important for companies that have gone to great lengths and even great expense to get their products on TV or in movies. What's more, fragrance and sound are more important than brand logos themselves. The owner of any Aveda Concept Salon probably understands the fragrance part of the equation. Now if only they could get their shampoo to talk. Another of Lindstrom's findings was that there has been a trend in the global cosmetics industry to create mystery around their products by rolling out scientific, mysterious-sounding formulas. "The more mystery and intrigue a brand can cultivate, the more likely it will appeal to us," he writes.
Lindstrom also asserts that the most successful brands, like Apple and L'Oréal, engage us emotionally, and they take their cue from the world's great religions to create rituals that persuade us to choose one brand over another. Case in point: On a recent episode of Mad Men, AMC's award-winning series about Madison Avenue advertising in the early 1960s, account executive Peggy Olson comes up with a new ad campaign for Popsicle. The company hopes to encourage people to buy their product all year long, not just in the summer months, so Peggy points out that all of us tend to break a Popsicle in two and share it with someone else. By making that ritual the cornerstone of its ad campaign, she says, Popsicle will tap into the emotions of the buying public, which will be yearning to recreate that ritual year-round.
One hundred years ago, John Wanamaker said, "Half my advertising budget is wasted. The trouble is, I don't know which half." Lindstrom proposes that neuromarketing can change that paradigm and help us better understand our customers and their seemingly irrational buying habits—why some of us will stand in line all day to get an iPhone, for example. Once we do that, he says, we can develop products our customers will love and, in turn, make more money, which is good for everyone. —Brett Vinovich, publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org
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