“In defense of marketing” is an on-going theme here at Sentient. As marketers, we are often put in a position to defend what we do as an ethical and valuable service. When faced with that challenge, our argument runs deeper than the standard “consumers need marketing in order to make informed choices” and puts forth a much stronger statement:
Marketing has been ingrained in our species since the advent of sexual selection, we have needed effective subconscious marketing to ensure the survival of our genes, these same marketing tactics are at play in our current consumer culture, and it is therefore the responsibility of market researchers to understand the subconscious influences on behavior in order to provide products and services that are truly valued by consumers.
We all do “marketing”, and we are all influenced by “marketing,” – whether that marketing is conducted by a potential mate hoping to ‘sell’ him or herself, or by a corporation hoping to sell you a TV, handbag or prescription drug. Marketing is a deeply-ingrained human behavior that creates valuable connection points between human beings, and humans and brands.
Aaron argued at last week’s Marketing Research Association Annual Conference in Boston that the subconscious influence of marketing on consumer behavior is ubiquitous and unavoidable and that it is our job as marketers to understand what determines choices, and how both the conscious and subconscious come into play. In order to understand consumers better, market research must:
- Start at the heart: Ensure the research you conduct will result in products, services and communications that are truly valued by consumers. When relying on research methods that don’t get at the heart of why people do what they do, and like what they like, businesses are in essence, laying the foundation for profound customer dissatisfaction.
- Tap into the subconscious: Breakthrough research methods effectively tap consumer subconscious associations with brands. Sentient’s Automatic Brand Associations (ABA) method delivers a practical and efficient model to reveal the strength of automatic emotional associations and brand attribute associations. This method provides emotional association ROI by linking the consumer subconscious to willingness to pay brand premium measures on an individual level.
- Measure the emotion: Emotions are part and parcel of all consumer preferences and leading edge research techniques outpace traditional approaches in predicting consumer choice and willingness to pay for a brand. In a hybrid approach, both qualitative and quantitative research designs combine to gather data, add insight and address specific learning objectives. The end result is deep and rich emotional insights that are validated statistically and can be incorporated into your planning immediately.
As always, our mailbox is open for comments and we’d love to hear your thoughts in defense of marketing.