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Monday, August 29, 2011

Brandwashed Read and Reviewed

Just completed a review copy of : Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade us to Buy by Martin Lindstrom.   To be available September 20.  Have enjoyed Lindstrom's earlier books such as Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy.

I will be posting some review snippets of this book here.  I highly recommend every marketer and consumer read it.  It is very much an updated version of Vance Packard's 1958 book: Hidden Persuaders.  Completely updated and containing lots of interesting examples of how marketing manipulates.   In many, but not all cases, he names specific companies and agencies.  Of course today, unlike in the 50s, we have many more marketing channels than just  TV, Radio, Billboards and Print.  The Internet is now here as well.  Shoppers are armed with their own mobile devices, and data about their activities is being recorded at a furious rate.

People who work in marketing or merchandising will know many of the examples mentioned, but I found some I had not heard of.  Lindstrom also commissions some specific studies for the book, such as in the final chapter where he constructs a test of human influencers, using the Morgenson family.   He also mentions  commissioned studies using brain study methods like fMRI.

Since I worked with the design and use of  mock retail innovation centers,  I will start by quoting the book on just such a concept:

" ... Very few people know this, but most major consumer goods companies, including Unilever, Kraft, Pepsico and Coca-Cola have set up 'fake supermarkets' ...  They stock the shelves with their own products and those of their competitors, then late at night  ... they invite people to come and shop.  While they are browsing the aisle, cameras and brain-scanning equipment are measuring what happens in real time while they select and reject various brands and items.  Not unlike in the film  'Minority Report', these supermarkets generally have a control room lined with TV screens on which reps can actually measure the changes in consumers brain waves as they encounter different positioning of products.  Based on this data, the company develops what in the business is called a Planogram, a model showing where each product should be placed to generate the highest sales .... "  

This is mostly correct, and looks ahead as we further seek to understand the conscious and especially non-conscious interactions of shoppers with the shelf and packaging,  using all of their senses.  The store laboratory allows for new retail designs to be both virtually and  physically examined.  The future is here today.

See also Martin Lindstrom's site.  As one review suggests, Lindstrom is very much an insider, and that makes this book all the more telling and interesting.  In today's world, unlike in Packard's, the industry changes very  quickly.  Advances like Neuromarketing, interactive signage, and electronic shelf labels, mentioned in the book, are changing quickly.  The book provides great examples of their use, but cannot hope to keep up with them.  Go to Lindstrom's site, and follow others like this site to keep up to date.

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