Showing posts with label Coca Cola. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coca Cola. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas - Marketing, psychology and the world

Santa Claus, Christmas carols, gifts, endless queues at the malls and the local post offices, house decorations and more human externalities! Christmas is here! Hohoho!! But, what does Christmas mean for us? Why "Merry Christmas"? Does Santa really exist? How could Christmas decoration both in houses and in retail stores affect our psychology? Marketers and psychologists are actually curious human beings that have studied almost every aspect of human and consumer behavior, including Christmas psychology!

Santa Claus really exists?

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas or simply "Santa", is a mythical figure with legendary, historical and folkloric origins who, in many Western cultures, is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children on December 24, the night before Christmas. Images of Santa Claus were further popularized through Haddon Sundblom’s depiction of him for The Coca-Cola Company’s Christmas advertising in the 1930s. The popularity of the image spawned urban legends that Santa Claus was invented by The Coca-Cola Company or that Santa wears red and white because they are the colors used to promote the Coca-Cola brand. Historically, Coca-Cola was not the first soft drink company to utilize the modern image of Santa Claus in its advertising: White Rock Beverages had already used a red and white Santa to sell mineral water in 1915 and then in advertisements for its ginger ale in 1923.

Kids believe in Santa Claus as a function of age. Kids are also more likely to believe if their parents encourage them to do so [Anderson & Prentice, 1994]. But it’s not clear that these beliefs are a sign of greater gullibility or even a greater interest in fantasy.

Actually, researchers found that a belief in Santa was unrelated to other measures of a child's interest in fantasy [Prentice, 1978]. And a recent series of experiments conducted at Harvard found that kids make important distinctions between beliefs in folkloric, fantasy characters and beliefs in other unseen, but scientifically-established, entities. Kids who professed to believe in Santa were nonetheless less certain about it than they were about the existence of oxygen or germs. Another set of experiments revealed that 4-year old kids don't invoke magical explanations for things that happen in the real world-not unless those things otherwise seem impossible [Rosengren & Hickling, 1994].

What happens when kids finally penetrate the veil and reject our fantasies? We might feel a little awkward or wistful. But the kids don’t appear to be heartbroken. When researchers questioned children who had stopped believing in Santa Claus, a milestone they reached around the age of 7, kids reported feeling pleased.

They had figured it out. They were enlightened now.

According to Anderson , it was THE PARENTS, NOT THE KIDS, who reported feeling a bit sad..

Why Merry Christmas?

Tim Kasser, an American psychologist, known for his work on materialism & Kennon Sheldon, professor of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, noticed 10 years ago that "More happiness was reported when family and religious experiences were especially salient, and lower well-being occurred when spending money and receiving gifts predominated. Engaging in environmentally conscious consumption practices also predicted a happier holiday, as did being older and male. In sum, the materialistic aspects of modern Christmas celebrations may undermine well-being, while family and spiritual activities may help people to feel more satisfied". Thus consumerism is not always the answer.

Christmas decoration

Werner & Brown [Journal of Environmental Psychology, 1989] suggested that most people like decorating their house for Christmas. One possible reason for this behavior could be the desire to communicate friendliness and cohesiveness with neighbors. Stimulus homes had been preselected to represent the four cells of a two by two factorial design crossing the presence/absence of Christmas decorations with the resident’s self-rated social contact with neighbors (low/high). As expected, a main effect for the decorated factor indicated that raters used Christmas decorations as a cue that the residents were friendly and cohesive. Decoration interacted with sociability in a complex but interpretable way. 

In the absence of Christmas decorations, raters accurately distinguished between the homes of sociable and nonsocial residents; in open ended comments, they attributed their impressions to the relatively more ‘open’ and ‘lived in’ look of the sociable residents’ homes. When Christmas decorations were present, raters actually attributed greater sociability to the nonsocial residents, citing a more open appearance as the basis for their judgments. The results support the idea that residents can use their home’s exterior to communicate attachment and possibly to integrate themselves into a neighborhood’s social activities.

As regards retail stores and their Christmas decoration, the following video, that explores current neuromarketing methods (measuring stimuli and emotions to retail stores Christmas decoration), might shed light on unconscious consumer decision-making processes:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Neuromarketing for Companies: Can it help?

Neuromarketing is a relatively new field of marketing research which focuses on consumers' cognitive and affective response to marketing stimuli. Neuromarketing is actually a child of the eternal corporate need to sustain a decision by all possible means when the pressure is way over the possibility of a decident to fight failure. Google, Coca-Cola, BMW, Procter & Gamble, Motorola, CBS are a few of the companies who have experimented neuromarketing for the past years. We have previously referred to neuroscience and neuromarketing research here and here, yet academics are still sceptical when it comes to predicting the future of this new marketing method. As a matter of fact, when i asked Prof. Alan Wilson, University of Strathclyde, about neuromarketing research a couple of weeks ago, his cautious response brought me down to earth: "Well, can neuroscience and neuromarketing provide, in the long term, any unique additional value to marketeers, compared to other marketing methods?" Well, i think it's too early to know the answer, but, at least let's try to discover some opportunities that neuromarketing may provide for marketeers, if any.


Trust is an issue which has been increasing in prominence within marketing. However, while consumer trust in brands and products is off course vital, marketing research has investigated trust on many other levels. Inter-organisational dealings such as joint ventures, strategic alliances and B2B buyer-seller dyads depend on mutual trust between parties. On one hand, consumer trust in marketing claims is crucial if they are to be believed, and ultimately lead to purchase behavior from consumers. The social utility of trust is clear when one considers that firms selling ‘fair trade’, ‘organic’, or other socially beneficial products must rely on consumer trust in their claims for success. Furthermore, in an organisational context, relationships depend on mutual trust between the parties. Without trust, opportunistic behavior dominates interactions, negating the possibility of long-term relationships between parties and again leading to a suboptimal situation for all. Marketing research has commonly conceptualized trust as more than a simple rational economic calculation, and it seems likely that neuroscientific methods can provide considerable insight into the nature and development of trust.

Neuroeconomic research has begun to investigate concepts of trust beyond rationality in recent times. Neuromarketing research can also be insightful to the investigation of trust. First and foremost, it is clear that, despite the centrality of trust to marketing relationships at a number of levels, controversies over the very nature of trust still exist. Neuroimaging is likely to offer considerable insight here. Research suggests that the caudate nucleus, which is often active when learning about stimuli–response relations, is involved in experimental games requiring some kind of trust. Yet is trust a simple response to a repeated positive stimulus, or something more? More interestingly, is the trust a buyer says they have in a seller, or a consumer in a product claim, similar in terms of the nature and location of brain activity to the trust that individual says they have in a close friend or family member? 

In particular, measuring both the spatial and temporal characteristics of neuronal activity may be important. For example does trust in an advertising claim or new business partner require increased information processing effort and time than trust in a long-term friend? This will have important implications as to the nature of trust. Furthermore, is consumer trust in claims relating to a product similar to a purchasing agent's trust in a contract with a supplier, and in turn is this of the same nature as the purchasing agent's trust in the individual sales executive they have negotiated with? Can trust be transferred from an organisation to a representative of that organisation? Finally, does trust evolve throughout the course of an inter-organisational relationship, or with continuing loyalty of a consumer to a single brand? Is trust ever truly existent in short-term marketing relationships? Exploring and understanding such questions about the nature of trust will then lead to greater ability to explore the antecedent factors to trust, and an ability to enhance firms' ability to build trust with customers and collaborators for mutually beneficial outcomes.


Pricing is a key tool used by organisations in the positioning of their products. Marketing research has investigated the effects of price on consumers. Despite the amount of academic knowledge available, companies appear to use little of it when setting prices, leading to suboptimal situations for both consumers and firms. Understanding the psychology of pricing is of crucial importance if firms are to make optimal decisions and in fact has considerable utility in a broader sense. Pricing research has implications for how we understand information processing in any decision context where resources and information are scarce and costs must be weighed against benefits. Recent behavioral research for example has explored errors made by consumers when they process prices ending in 0.99 rather than a whole number -suggesting that individuals pay less attention to later numbers in a sequence. At this stage however, almost all pricing research is behavioral in nature, and relies on ‘assumptions’ about what actually occurs when individuals process pricing information.

In fact, pricing seems to lend itself almost perfectly to neuroimaging research. For example, simultaneously exploring the temporal and spatial nature of brain activity may help us understand exactly why prices such as ‘$4.99’ are perceived as significantly cheaper than those such as ‘$5.00’. Do individuals really ignore the final two digits, or are they processed in a different manner or at a later time - for example only when detailed comparative decisions must be made? Furthermore, do time or other pressures influence the processing of prices? 

Furthermore, neuroimaging looks likely to provide considerable insight into the nature of price information. Is the price of products a purely rational piece of information, or does it have emotional and/or reward-based connotations? It seems likely that the price of a basic product such as sugar is very different in nature from the price of a conspicuous product such as a Nike sports shoe, or a BMW sports car, which should be evidenced in changes in the location of brain activity when these prices are viewed alongside their associations (Source:UCLA). Research such as this will allow us not only to understand how prices are processed, but will afford insight into all situations where seemingly rational information is processed in decision-making situations.

Source: Forbes
Here is a recent pricing example of neuromarketing research: Kai-Markus Müller of Stuttgart-based The Neuromarketing Labs, using EEG brain wave measurement, gauged the emotional reaction of consumers to different prices for a small cup of coffee, which costs €1.80 ($2.45) at a Stuttgart Starbucks.The firm claims their results show that our brains reject prices that are too low or too high as being unrealistic, and says that the optimal price point for that small coffee in Stuttgart would be €2.40 ($3.25). Starbucks shareholders might like the idea that at least some of the firm’s products could be priced higher, but some caution is in order. For commodity items like coffee, lower prices tend to increase sales while higher prices discourage them. It would be quite unexpected for a higher price to increase unit sales for this type of product (Source:Forbes).
Trust and pricing were just two examples where neuromarketing/neuroimaging tools can assist marketeers and organizations further understand consumers. Neuromarketing research itself is constantly evolving, both in terms of technology as well as insights into exactly what activity and processes in various areas of the brain actually mean. As technology evolves, we will be able to measure frequency, temporal, and spatial characteristics of brain activity more accurately and in a complimentary fashion, potentially leading to new insight into what were previously well-accepted brain functions and areas of activity. I hope that neuromarketing will offer marketeers much insight into how humans behave during what is a large part of our modern lives.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Monozukuri for Sustainable Brands in the 21st Century

The word Monozukuri has only been in use for almost 15 years. In 1998, the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office set up a "Monozukuri Kondankai", in order to reverse the trend of deindustrialization and hollowing out that Japan was experiencing after the end of the Japanese financial bubble by affirming Japan’s strengths in manufacturing. In general, monozukuri  is the "art, science and craft of making things." While monozukuri is used to describe technology and processes integrating sustainable development, production and procurement, it also includes intangible qualities such as unique craftsmanship and dedication to continuous improvement. In the Japanese tradition of Monozukuri, when an item or human effort is taken into use, there needs to be a benefit for the society as a result while, at the same time, the balance between production, resources and the society should be maintained. Monozukuri should therefore be an inspiration for most global organizations in the 21st century in their effort to create strong, innovative brands, which deliver compelling content through their media channels, especially then it comes to branding and brand storytelling.

Toyota and Nissan lead the way

Companies such as Toyota and Nissan have already tried to elevate their brands or the company’s core interests by creating unique content that exceeds infomercial-like self reverence.

Back in 2011, Toyota chairman Fujio Cho said that Toyota’s mission is to “preserve the Japanese Monozukuri". What does "monozukuri" mean here? It probably captures the Toyota perception of sustainability. According to Toyota monokuzuri, the person doing the making is de-emphasized and the attention is on the ‘thing’ being made. This subtle difference reflects the Japanese sense of responsibility for using ‘things’ in production and their deep respect for the world around them both animate and inanimate. In its application of Monozukuri to the production of automobiles, Toyota has pursued a sustainable method of making its cars ever more safe, environmentally friendly, reliable and comfortable and circulating this perception to its customers.

At Nissan, brand storytelling has been dubbed “kotozukuri,” complementing the Japanese manufacturers’ mantra of “monozukuri”. Brand agnostic stories, intentionally omitting reference to the parent firm or its competitors, or in Nissan’s case, look to raise the profile of the people, products, technologies and relationships as part of infotainment


Why? Actually, it's about Nissan's recognition that traditional media and consumer engagement face more challenges as well as expense amid a growing range of choice. Meanwhile, internal communications, often constituting corporate media or house TV units until now, have expanded from a parochial approach to include more content for mass distribution. The relationship with broadcasters and print media, who often have their own on-line presence, has evolved to include video embeds, undeniably showing return on investment versus the cost of similar paid media exposure. Use by the blogosphere or consumers also has powered the metrics of successful marketing, as “shares” and “likes” offer potential for viral exposure.

It seems that every organization may perceive Monozukuri in a different way. However, "Many names now describe the trend such as brand journalism, corporate narrative or 21st Century Kotozukuri, but all require more sophisticated storytelling and delivery, making ties to traditional agencies"  (Dan Sloan, Nissan Global Media Chief).

Back to storytelling

Storytelling is a well known and ancient art form. Persona-focused storytelling is essential to branding. When it comes to creating a powerful brand narrative, the persona – the articulated form of the brand’s character and personality – comes first, and all other elements unfold from there. A compelling brand starts with a strong, well-drawn, and quickly recognized persona, the essential connection between what a company says and what it does.

This brand persona creates a long-lasting emotional bond with the audience because it is instantly recognizable and memorable, it is something that people can relate to, and it is consistent. Nike, McDonald’s, FedEx are all examples of brands with personas that fit these criteria. In each case, there is a clear personality associated with the brand. These companies understand that it is their clear articulation of their brand persona and their discipline in placing that persona into stories that work with and help strengthen that brand persona is what makes the difference between strong and weak brand associations.

That long-lasting and implicit trust is what distinguishes the great brands from the rest of the pack. It will also protect the brand when it makes a misstep. Nike has a strong brand persona that is all about performance and winning. Their long-used tagline, ‘‘Just do it,’’ is instantly recognizable as is their logo, the swoosh. In 2006, Nike teamed up with skier Bode Miller, which seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, he had won two silver medals at the Olympics in 2002, four gold medals and a silver medal at the World Championship in 2003, and in 2005, he became the first American in 22 years to win the World Cup title. His performance trajectory was clear. If anything, it seemed that the difficulty would be in finding words to match his expected performance.

There was no shortage of words: in TV spots for the 2006 Winter Olympics, Miller was shown talking about performance, talking about his attitude, and talking some more. But there was not much ‘‘doing’’ – he fell short in all five medal attempts. Worse, he did not even seem concerned with winning, an attitude that did not match well with the Nike brand persona. This created a disconnect between the audience and the brand, since the fit between Bode and Nike clearly was not right. Monozukuri here, as a unique value proposition for the consumer, through storytelling, went wrong.

Brand my brain

Brain studies have shown dramatic effects of branding. In one famous study, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see how subjects’ brains responded when they were given Coke or Pepsi. Some of the subjects were given the soda without knowing which brand it was, and were asked to give their preference on taste alone. Others were given the soda and then an image of Coke or Pepsi was flashed at them before they took a sip.

The result? The blinded tasting resulted in no preference for one brand over the other in the group, some preferred Pepsi, others preferred Coke, but they did not know which was which, so the overall results were what you would expect in two chemically and physically similar drinks. The unblinded tasting was something else altogether. While there was no influence of brand knowledge for people who thought they were drinking Pepsi, there was a very strong brand influence when they were shown an image of Coke. Their belief that they were drinking Coke actually altered their experience to the point where some areas of the brain lit up only when they believed it was a Coke that they were drinking. Clearly, branding is a real, measurable effect. Coke lit up the hippocampus and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, areas of the brain related to memory, control of action, and self-image. Our brains love Coke even more than our taste buds do.

How is it connected to storytelling? Actually, a lot of it has to do with the fact that Coke has been telling a good story, using an exciting yet accessible brand persona that people easily relate to. Storytelling has been engaging listeners and readers for ages and Coke figured out how to make that work to their advantage. Researchers have shown that successful storytelling (as a correct Monozukuri version) strengthens the connections consumers have to brands to a great extent.


When it comes to brand development, a unique perception of Monozukuri for each organization may lead our audience in the brand story and its actions. Marketing strategists should always perceive and apply Monozukuri in the optimum way to genuinely connect with the audience and ultimately convert them into loyal customers.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Behavioral marketing

Emotional cues that work magic for customers

 Marketers have long understood that emotions play an important role in consumer decision making. But, as the latest scientific evidence suggests, their influence is much more nuanced and complex than many are aware. Subtle, rather than intense, emotional reactions are often more persuasive. Short-lived emotions can have lasting effects. The experience and expression of negative emotions can sometimes be beneficial. Emotional experiences are often poorly predicted and remembered. In all these areas, a better understanding of emotions will help managers tailor their own act to give better prompts and get the desired response from consumers, in order to maximize customer satisfaction and loyalty at every stage of the encounter.

Customers tend to be quite aware of how intense emotions can affect their decisions: The overcrowding and long lines at the Ikea checkout may leave customers fuming. But as they march out of the store vowing never to shop there again, they may well indulge in an impulse buy on the way out, just to relieve the stress they’re feeling.

What just happened? We often focus on the influence of intense emotions, yet ignore how subtler feelings might also be affecting consumer actions and choices, perhaps on an unconscious level. Mild emotions, whether positive or negative, can trigger or inhibit consumer actions just as powerfully as intensely realized ones.This means that, in order to ensure that your customers feel happy and relaxed when dealing with your business, it is important to pay attention to small cues that can improve their mood or dispel potentially inhibiting negative emotional states.

It is possible to enhance the appeal of your business by exploring areas in which you can evoke positive emotions, which lead to favorable evaluations and increase purchasing intentions. A pleasant scent and music may lure a customer into a store. A smile from a flight attendant may encourage a passenger to buy from the duty-free cart.Simple improvements like this – to alleviate any mild discomfort, and to enhance a positive atmosphere – are easy to implement and can turn a passerby into a lifelong client.

 Creating a pleasant atmosphere with music, scent, lighting or other atmospherics has long been known to provoke positive emotional reactions. But certainly, customer service is always crucial: saying the right words at the right time, remaining calm when faced with an agitated customer or client, going the extra mile.If there are areas of your business that may contribute to a negative emotional state, evaluate how you can alter the emotion for a positive evaluation of the atmosphere. For example, convert frustration to pleasant anticipation during a long wait at a popular restaurant by offering a taste of what’s to come, such as free hors d’oeuvres or beverages.

The Lasting Impact of Short-Lived Emotions

 Many businesses have understood how they can use the mild and mundane emotional experiences of their consumers to influence decisions at that moment. But affecting emotions in the short term can have long-term consequences, as people may form an evaluation or commit to a course of action while experiencing the initial emotion, which will impact their future behavior.Using the classic social science ultimatum game, in one recent paper we explored and confirmed that, in fact, the impact of emotions on behavior can outlive the emotional experience itself.

 In this game, a “proposer” makes an offer to split a given amount of money with a “receiver.” If the person playing the “receiver” feels that the deal is unfair, then that person can reject the offer, and both participants end up with nothing.In our experiment, we began manipulating receivers’ mood by showing them movie clips that sparked either anger or happiness. Subsequently, they were asked to play two ultimatum games.

 In the first game, the proposer would offer the receiver an unfair division of the available amount of money: the proposer would get 75 percent and the receiver 25 percent. Angry receivers rejected these unfair offers at a much higher rate than happy receivers. Even if rejecting the offer meant being left with nothing, the angry participants held to their rationale that unfairness was the basis of their decision.The twist came in the latter round, once the initial emotional reaction had already dissipated. In the next ultimatum game, the once-angry receivers were asked to play the role of the proposer, the majority of whom chose to make fairer offers.

Because people tend to behave consistently with past actions, earlier choices triggered by an incidental emotion became the basis for future decisions.When angry participants made their decision to reject an unfair offer in the first instance, they acquired a self-image of being and acting as fair individuals. Exercising fairness – which resulted from the anger they felt earlier – carried over to a future scenario. Even though the initial anger that triggered the desire for fairness had disappeared, the once-angry proposer is instead guided by behavioral consistency.
Once an emotion has prompted us to choose a course of action, we run into internal and external pressures that continually push us into making similar choices in the future. The image that we have of ourselves – as fair individuals, generous or frugal, socially conscious, conservative or fun-loving – as well as the image that we hope others will have of us, compels us to act consistently in the future.
Another way in which the impact of emotions can outlive the emotional experience itself and influence consumers is through the recall of a previously biased evaluation of a product or service.

Perhaps a biased evaluation
To take a marketing example: A humorous ad can positively bias the evaluation of the product. Based on the positive emotion triggered by that ad, in the future the positive evaluation is recalled, not the current emotional state, and that once-happy moment experienced in the past guides a new decision. Thus, the key is to find ways of making the consumer spontaneously form an evaluation of the product or service while in a good mood, which will then affect subsequent recall and purchase intentions.

Applying the lesson

The phenomena described above lead to two clear suggestions: take advantage of behavioral consistency; and stimulate consumers to form evaluations while in a good mood.Businesses can harness the consistency of self-image in order to appeal to customers. One example of this is in stakeholder marketing. In many countries, retailers have replaced disposable plastic bags with reusable cloth bags. A consumer may initially be put off when they dis-cover they have to pay for a cloth bag. But they inevitably feel good about their contribution to the environment. Behavioral consistency will take over from there as they acquire the self-image of being conscientious about their role in reducing waste and pollution. In this case, the 1 euro they spend commits them to similar decisions in the future, a case in which the emotion triggered maximizes the benefit for all stakeholders (Andrade & Capizzani, Berkeley).

Coca-Cola has been famous for putting viewers of their ads in a good mood. Whether in the ’70s with “I’d like to teach the world to sing” jingle, or during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the adverts trigger a spontaneous, positive emotion. Yet the decision and action to buy Coke may come days or weeks after seeing the ad.