Sunday, December 11, 2011
Mean Joe Green & Why We Do What We Do
If you look at how a successful company like Coke branded they did it by being everywhere. There was Mean Joe Green drinking a Coke with a kid, Coke on your kids little league baseball scoreboard etc. They established an emotional connection to the product that resulted in a more likely purchase of Coke vs another cola. In Martin Lindstrom’s book, Buyology, he explains how marketers use quantitative research, which involves surveying a large number of people about an idea, concept, or product. They then follow up with qualitative research by surveying smaller focus groups. The basic question they are trying to answer is what makes consumers choose the way they do.
What may be surprising to discover is that many of these product surveys are not that effective. How people answer a survey is often disconnected from how they behave. One obvious problem can stem from how a survey is worded. A classic example used at Harvard Business School is a survey used to determine who would buy a Ford Edsel. The survey asked whether a potential buyer liked an Edsel, not whether they would buy it. Although most respondents liked the car, very few people actually bought an Edsel, leading to a disastrous loss for Ford.
Lindstrom contend that we don’t always act on the answers we give on surveys because of unconscious emotions, i.e. previous childhood associations or feelings of improved status. There is a peninsula of unconscious thought that influences the way we behave. Sometimes these unconscious thoughts have a more powerful impact than the conscious answers we give when filling out a survey.
For example, a customer with a foot injury walks into a running store and is met by a young dynamic salesperson who fits the customer with a running shoe selected to help him with his injury. The customer then decides to have a gait evaluation and get information about his stride.
The impulse to get the gait evaluation was borne of both emotion and convenience. What that customer does not realize is that he may have some condition, such as a leg length discrepancy, that warrants a medical professional’s attention. How we make decisions turns out to be tied to the emotional connections associated with the choices as much as anything else.