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.

1 comment:

  1. Michael - Good job with the post - nice summary and good thoughts on Song. Interesting connection to subliminal advertising.