Psychology of Consumer Behaviour |

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Engage Kids 6-11- Things I'd like to unknow

The email newsletter had been sitting in my inbox for a couple of days. The subject: Engage kids 6-11. I had been away. Is that why it had been sitting unopened? Probably not. I’ve worked in advertising. I’ve seen a lot and known a lot.

There are things I’d much rather unknow. Maybe the targeting of children is one of those things. And now I’m going to get a weekly newsletter on just this subject alone- how to “get” the kids 6-11.

The subject of this first Engage Kids 6-11 newsletter is one that could be good- marketing nutritional food to kids. We all know that kids are eating too much bad food and not getting enough exercise, so how bad could this be?

It starts out by telling us that the “Better For You” products are one of the hottest market battlegrounds. The newsletter is about to tell us a seven point strategy to sell your “Better For You.” First, determine the family type. Is it “restrictive” where the parents dictate the foods; is it “balanced” where kid and parent decide or is it “anything goes” where kids rule?

Now how can the marketer get all three? Well, point two tells us you have to infuse the nutritional anchor (whatever may be healthy about the product) with kid appeal. “While the nutritional anchor will appeal to mom, it's essential to "Kidify" the product and make it appealing to kids, while leaving the nutritional anchor clearly evident. Ways to infuse kid appeal can be to attach a cool spokescharacter or to give it a fun "kid friendly" name. Try to make the product look or feel like an invitation to a party a kid would not want to miss.”

Next, delight the kid and therefore the mom. Make sure it tastes good and the package says so too. Don’t worry, your product doesn’t have to be really really good for you, just fit between indulgent and nutritional. And for Pete’s sake, sell the kids on something other than nutrition.

Is this all new?

In television's infancy Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob told their young audience, "Wonder Bread builds strong bodies 8 ways. Look for the red, yellow and blue balloons printed on the wrapper." Mom bought it and Howdy said it was good.

Change anyone?

Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood

Friday, October 17, 2008

I want my Anarchy with Butter!

Yesterday in class I was talking about credibility. Who is credible? Who can sell your brand? We also talked about how shock advertising can put a brand on the map. Shock may alienate some but usually the angry are not the target audience and they in fact create more buzz with their outrage.

Can a raging punk anarchist sell butter?

In the late 70s Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols created a stir when they stormed Britain with songs like God Save the Queen and Anarchy in the UK. It was all about shock. I can't say I totally disagree with some of those punk sentiments. I even had a brother who played at being one for awhile.

Have a look back at Mr. Rotten in about 1977. Listen for the embedded messages- "credibility from Nothing. Develop this as a story you can sell."..ha, ha!

Just what becomes of a punk rocker who turns 50?

Well apparently he sells butter in the guise of an English Country Gentleman. Cue the outrage!
The song English Country Garden has never sounded better.

Is Mr. Rotten credible? Probably not, but shocking he still is. The ad is getting buzz.
Would I ever have heard of Country Life British Butter if it hadn't been for the Sex Pistols?
I know Johnny Rotten as Country Gentleman is supposed to be all ironic, but doesn't he kind of look a lot like any other slightly eccentric English guy? Shocking!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

There's an elephant in my bed. Don't Vote!

In 1969 Pierre Trudeau said quite rightly that living next door to the United States was, "like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt."

Yesterday Canada voted. We are a little bit closer to the elephant.

There was talk during the last US election that a surge in the youth vote could change things. It didn’t happen.

Can it happen this time?

Last week Borders Perrin Norrander and Pollinate Media released an interesting campaign and website in hopes of motivating that young audience. Basically the campaign asks the question, “Are things fine just the way they are?”

However, the ads ask no question at all. Rather, they create a cognitive dissonance between the striking images and the simple phrase, “Don’t Vote: Things are fine just the way they are.”

The website encourages the download of posters, banners and flash video. The campaign is getting buzz in the blogosphere, but will it actually get that youthful voter in the voting booth?

By the way, it may be hard to see in the image to the left, but Lady Liberty is giving us the finger!

Monday, October 13, 2008

We may be lost, but we're making good time!

An article I read recently talked about obesity, but it wasn’t just the fact that North Americans are eating themselves into an unhealthy state but that we are buying ourselves into an unhealthy state. Down, down goes the stuffing and down, down, down goes the market.

No doubt about it, most of us have too much stuff. Our lives are obese even if sometimes we walk or run or exercise and take the vitamins.

We need to de-stuff.

It could well be that we are going to “Hell in a Handbasket.” Since we may be going that way, I thought I should look up exactly what that phrase might mean. Apparently, it’s a mocking reference to the Guillotine which often used a lined basket to catch the severed head.

! There, now I feel better. And there’s even a song!

All this Hell in a Handbasket talk reminded me of the David Byrne song, "Road to Nowhere." A little YouTube search turned up this version from my favorite movie last year: Young @ Heart.

Yes, de-stuffing is a must. Just the same, I'm glad I bought those Frye boots because it appears I'll be needing a sturdy pair on the rest of that road to Nowhere.

My Love Affair with the TTC and a Man with a Mop

Something pretty magical happened yesterday. I was on my way to meet a friend to see a movie. The streetcar ride and the short subway ride were quick and uneventful, but as I entered the train at the Scarborough RT, I noticed a complete cup of coffee had been spilled and was running down the entire length of the car. Gingerly, we all tried to walk around the puddles. Carefully I sat on the side that seemed to be mostly coffee free. As we awaited the driver to walk from one end of the train to the other, a gentleman appeared with mop in hand and began mopping up the coffee.

“Wow,” I said, “Thank You! The TTC sure is efficient.”
Looking amazed, he smiled and said,” Thank you. We try!”

It was as if no one had ever complimented him. I wondered about that on a day so near to Thanksgiving. Everybody complains when any little thing goes wrong on public transit, but who thanks the everyday people for the everyday things they do?

In my classes I talk about consumer behaviour and marketers and companies and communication. As consumers how responsible are we for the service we get?
If we said thanks more often, would we get better service? Maybe.

All I know is that I have a little bit of a love affair going with the TTC. It’s a bit more reliable than at least a few of the men I’ve known. It picks me up and takes me places in rain, and sun, and snow. I can daydream, listen to my music, tune into strange conversations, watch a scene or two that would rival the best sitcom, and arrive at my destination relaxed. OK, sometimes there’s a really smelly person or someone clipping their toenails or someone eating a three course meal. But they are all the customers!

How much does a word of thanks cost? What does it say and what does it mean?
As for me, I love a good man with a mop!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Follow the leader or follow the follower? Kool-Aid, anyone?

In the 50's Solomon Asch created an interesting experiment that showed that people would deny what they see and possibly know and conform to the group. Only one person was the real subject; the others were confederates who lied about what they saw on the instructions of Asch.

The task was simple. You have 3 lines of different lengths on the right. Which line matches the line on the left. There's no trick to it. To any normal person there is a clear answer, yet when everyone else is picking the wrong answer, how confident are you to say something different? 75% of the participants gave at least one wrong answer. Clearly subjects were influenced by the group even though it's quite possible they knew the group was wrong.

Now if you happened to watch the debate the other night between Obama and McCain on CNN. Exactly what were you watching?
Were you watching the candidates or were you transfixed by the immediate squiggly line at the bottom of the screen that was moving in reaction to what a select audience felt about what the candidates were saying?
It was hard to ignore that little line.

In our world today we have the luxury of seeing a live debate, watching an instant by instant poll of what others are thinking or feeling, or receiving twitter comments of what is going on from the debate itself.

What exactly does that mean?

Well, if we listen to Solomon Asch what we see may not actually be what we see. If we happen to be for a particular candidate, we are probably watching to see that he or she is getting a positive spike; but if we happen to be undecided are we going to follow the spikes? As long as the spikes are trending to the one least likely to blow up the world, maybe we are safe.

But what if they aren't?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's what's Up Front that counts

In the 50's Ernst Dichter described as appearing like, "the archetypical European shrink" founded the Institute of Motivational Research. Dichter called himself a doctor. But from what I've read, the truth to those credentials are more than quite uncertain. Drawing from the Freudian playbook, he did questionable research and concluded that humans are, "immature, with irrational insecurities and insatiable erotic desires."
According to Dichter you could get rid of all your bad feelings, immorality and even sins just by buying a bar of Ivory soap. Yes a lot of things were all about sex from his point of view.
This possibly brings us to the Winston ad "It's what's up front that counts." I showed this to a class of my Psychology of Consumer Behaviour students today. We had quite a laugh. I told them that ads were pretty much 2 things: What they say and What they mean.

It occurred to me that a lot of life is not unlike that simple two sided concept. Thus I begin my blog of the same name -maybe to investigate the difference or maybe not. I'm not entirely certain that I want to be "upfront" and I must admit to having always considered myself to be an "ivory girl." Though I question Dichter's methods and thesis, can I honestly say that I am not immature? Damn I put a wind up girl robot with an apron on my blog- and egads insecurities- I have known a few- Oh dear and insatiable erotic desires- we shall not speak! And now if size matters, methinks I should follow the KISS rule. But before I go. if you have ever wondered why Barbie has such big boobs or why Betty Crocker put an egg in "her" pancake mix, you can thank the good Doctor for that!

Check out that certain look of excitement on the woman's face at the end of the video!