Friday, January 20, 2012

Do you prime? Or how to use sub-consciousness to enhance your message

Priming is the psychological phenomenon in which subtle cues in the environment (pictures, text, sounds, etc.) influences subconsciously (or without awareness) how one thinks, feels, and acts. When students at NYU were exposed to politeness related words, they tended to wait longer to interrupt a conversation of others compared to students who were primed with rudeness words.

Research on consumer behavior uncovered similar effects. Consumers exposed to prestige logos (e.g., Nordstrom) chose to buy more expensive socks than consumers exposed to thrift logos (e.g., Wal-Mart). And a recent study by professors at Duke University demonstrated that consumers perform better on standard creativity tests after being subliminally exposed to an Apple logo.

Implications: Priming is a fascinating psychological phenomenon that can be strategically used to build company brand identity and inform ad placement decisions. Priming is not trickery. To be effective primes require understanding of consumers – their needs, desires, goals, and environment.  To be effective, priming requires understanding of consumers’ needs, desires, goals, and environment. Priming that aims to trigger actions irrelevant to consumers may fail to influence behavior or the impact will dissipate after a very short delay.

Experience priming: Michael Shermer (TED, 2006)

If you would like to learn a little more, click below to see a 5 min video on priming

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Priming in Advertising

Priming is a psychological phenomenon in which subtle cues in the environment (pictures, text, sounds, etc.) influences subconsciously (or without awareness) how one thinks, feels, and acts. Priming can play an important role in how advertisement is interpreted and whether it is effective.  TV and radio shows as well as adjacent magazine articles and advertisements for other products and brands can all be primes.
The effect of primes on advertising has been well document. Consider a few examples:
        Mood induced by television programs carriers over to commercials. In general, commercials placed in happy programs tend to be more persuasive and receive more positive evaluations by consumers.
        Prestige of a magazine could “rub off” on advertized brands and products.  Advertising in prestigious magazines enhances perception of advertised brands and products.
        Magazine articles can also be used as primed. An ad for a large laptop generates more favorable perception when the ad is preceded by an article on visual quality and versatile functionality (attributes positively related to a large laptop).  The interest in the large laptop dropped when the ad followed an article about mobility and convenience.
        Advertising media choice can be creatively leveraged to communicate a specific benefit or advantage of a product. An energy drink ad placed in an elevator generates more interest among consumers than the same ad placed in a newspaper. Apparently, an elevator serves as a prime for uplifting, powerful, easy, and fast.
Implications: Priming can activate certain thoughts and feelings as well as influence how information presented in ads is interpreted. Marketers and advertisers can use the power of priming strategically by exerting control over media context in which ads are embedded to ensure advertisement persuasiveness is enhanced rather than harmed. Obviously, media primes in themselves cannot generate success or failure of a product or brand; the product needs to be meaningful and relevant to consumers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What comes first brand awareness or favorability? You will be surprised...

When a new brand is introduced the most important measure of early marketing effectiveness is likely to be brand favorability and not brand awareness.  This insight is derived from psychological research on the mere exposure effect and is contrary to the traditional believe that brand awareness is a pre-requisite for brand preference. 

Research on the mere exposure effect demonstrates that preference ratings (favorability), rather than recognition (familiarity), constitute a reliable metric differentiating novel from previously seen stimuli (like brands).  Once the brand becomes familiar, the impact of the mere exposure effect decreases.  At this later stage, awareness and brand attributes become more appropriate metrics of brand success.