Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blog 6: The Conscious Unconscious

The Reptilian Code

The 3-stage technique utilized by Dr. Rapaille at first seemed that it would like something that would be used on 2nd graders in elementary school. Tapping into the subconscious wants and needs of customers also sounded ambiguous and a waste of time. Delving deeper into the human psyche by laying down in the dark seems a bit sketchy from my point of view. I also personally found it hard to believe that you can detect the code behind what people feel about products, ideas, and brands…but then again he’s the one with millions of dollars and Bentleys in his garage.

The 3-stage technique evaluates logical, emotional, and subconscious responses from the participants in order to develop the specific code for the topic. It seems like a mind game of sorts throughout the experiment. He allows the participants to logically voice their opinions through past reasoning, then he brings out their emotional perspectives by telling a story, then finally placing them in a state where he could explore their unconscious feelings aka their Reptilian Code. His study reminds me of an experiment they would perform in a typical psychology study, but after all marketing is essentially understanding the psychology of the consumer.

Initially, I thought this code he was after was merely another term for a subliminal message. By tapping into consumer’s minds and producing a resultant idea, companies could send subliminal messages to their target audience to unleash some sort of internal, subconscious feeling to actually go out and buy the product. There have been rumors and controversies that companies in the past have attempted to utilize subliminal messages in their advertisements to deceive consumers into purchasing products, but focus on ethics have halted many of these past schemes. There is also no clear cut evidence that these subliminal messages do effectively work. This code might actually not be a subliminal message whatsoever, i.e. the code for SUV = dominance, but from the deep analysis there might be some notice of messages that are more indirect.

A famous example of subconscious purchases arise when customers buy laundry detergent that their mothers would use. Some people might say they do this because they already have a sense of familiarity with the product/brand, but digging deeper one might argue that they make this purchase because it subconsciously reminds them of their mother/father and their childhood. You could say the code for laundry detergent could be familiarity, nostalgia, or family-ties.

A questionable concern I see in these studies is that people are inherently different and individualistic. Not everyone thinks alike, shares similar living conditions, and experiences the same situations growing up. I understand by using this code marketers are better able to lure a significant portion of their target market, but I still question how effective this code can be. Sure you can use this code to take advantage and tailor your product to their subconscious wants, but if a shopper is more logical/emotional when making purchases in general. Will they realize their wants and needs are being targeted subconsciously? Let time be the judge.

Song's Dilemma

Companies do try to rather use these subconscious codes to associate those feelings with their products. By first evoking positive emotions, companies believe customers would then link those feelings with the brand/product and then actually make the purchase from there. Song tried to use these associations of the ideal airline feelings to build a link between a quality experience and their airlines. I feel this is a good strategy, however it is being implemented at the wrong point in time. They are a new airline and people don’t recognize who they are and what they do, so when Song came out with their innovative and somewhat ambiguous commercials, it left many potential customers puzzled on what exactly the company did. People were definitely identifying with the advertising, but only 15% of viewers actually knew who they were. They did not establish themselves as new airline so many people confused their advertisements to travel agents for instance. They appealed to their consumer's needs and evoked the right feelings, but not establishing their company really hurt them in the end. I feel if they would’ve used a more direct strategy in the earlier stages of their advertising then gradually advanced to promote the ideal customer experience, customers would understand what and who they were dealing with.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blog 5: Kenna's Dilemma

My first experience with Kenna began when MTV2 was still in its’ early stages of formation and had a featured artist each week. This one particular week however, there seemed to be a lot of buzz surrounding this “Kenna” character for his world premiere video of “Hell Bent.” It was definitely a unique kind of sound and was seemingly a big hit because it was played constantly on MTV2, but after that song, I never heard anything from him. However, flash forward to 2009 and Kenna is brought up once again in Customer Insights. I now see that through low ratings in test markets, his type of music had apparently no one true fan base according to the research, so his airplay was ultimately limited. The dilemmas presented in the article definitely relate to those we face as consumers, most notably the Pepsi ‘Sip’ Challenge as well as the power that packaging has on consumers.

The Pepsi Challenge was an interesting way to challenge their primary competitor Coca-Cola in a battle of what tastes better. Pepsi seemingly had the advantage in taste (obviously with the title “The Pepsi Challenge”), but as a consumer I never thought about a sip tasting any different from drinking an entire can. Pepsi’s sip of cola in this Central Location test was victorious and seemed to convert Coke drinkers, but in Coke’s defense their cola seemed to fare better when the entire can was consumed. Pepsi might’ve realized this and utilized the Pepsi ‘Sip’ Challenge to alter customer perspectives.

This test immediately reminded me of the movie trailer experience. It is perceived that you can judge an entire movie based on simply the ‘sip’ of the actual movie, and by exciting customers with the trailer, they are more likely to go see it. Personally, one of my favorite parts about going to watch a film at a theatre is actually the preview section. Great movie trailers that are innovative and captivating can leave you in itching in anticipation to go learn more and watch the film. Films like The Dark Knight, Knocked Up, and the Star Wars trilogies have all delivered to live up to their intriguing trailers. At the same time however, a bad movie trailer can make you care less about the film and make you wish you had gone to get popcorn instead. Movies such as Lions for Lambs, Gigli, and “From Justin to Kelly (The post-American Idol movie) leave the audience confused, bored, and may not deliver the necessary point to draw customers to watch the film. Although these ended up being horrible movies anyway, the buzz around the films did not help their numbers in the box office.

Conversely just because a ‘sip’ of a movie is good/bad doesn’t mean that the movie will follow the trailer of course. The latest example that comes to mind is probably Slumdog Millionaire. If I were to see THIS trailer prior to all the buzz and awards, I would probably brush it off and continue enjoying my popcorn. I would’ve never guessed this trailer would be the Oscar winning film of 2008. On the contrary good trailers with renowned directors and actors can cause quite an opening buzz, but leaves audiences with a sense of disappointment. Examples would be Will Smith movies (I still have love for Big Willie Style) such as Wild, Wild West, Hancock, and Seven Pounds as well as a couple of M. Night Shyamalans more recent films The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening. A ‘sip’ of a movie may not reveal the overall outcome of the movie, but good trailers can cause buzz and at least give movies momentum in box office sales. Movie companies should continue to deliver quality and unique movie trailers to lure audiences, and by doing this they can hopefully persuade them psychologically enough to have a positive pre-conceived notion of the film when they actually go watch it. Causing this initial buzz (as in Kenna’s case) helps draws audiences, but if many people criticize the actual movie, they still have the chance to resonate as a future cult classic following.

Another major issue that was brought up in the article was based on the importance of packaging. Whenever I look at products, the color scheme, font, and even the pictures it plays a major role in my purchase decision. For instance, when I search for toilet paper, I always have trusted the name brands because of their colorful designs and ‘soft’ aesthetics. The generic brands claim to have the same features such as softness and durability, but the look appearance of the packaging gives me the impression that the paper is rough and weak. Toilet paper might essentially have similar feels and consistency, but I need to feel assured mentally that I’m making the right choice. When it comes to the restroom, toilet paper for me needs to be the highest quality in my mind; I will not buy secondary brands.
Which tissue would you prefer?

Another issue with packaging arises when companies decide to alter the look of product to shape a new image in consumers’ minds. I’m a fairly avid fan to Mountain Dew, so when they decided to alter the style and change ‘Mountain Dew’ to ‘Mtn Dew’ I was somewhat confused. When I first was handed a Mountain Dew from my friend, I wasn’t sure if I was drinking a generic brand that was attempting to replicate the product so at first I took it as a secondary brand. When I first took a sip I thought it tasted strange and perceived it for a generic brand, but my friend reassured me that it was in fact Mountain Dew with a new design. So when companies decide to change an image of a product, it might also alter the customer’s image of the actual product (as shown in the E&J/Christian Brothers and Mountain Dew example). The slight change in name and look altered my perception of the product which then made me taste the drink differently. I’m not sure if this was just a coincidental example or if it has happened often, but I’m just saying that companies need to be strategic on how much they actually change their product packaging. Sometimes the alteration of a package can catch consumers off and guard and actually alter tastes and how we perceive the product.