UNCONSCIOUS BRANDING

HOW NEUROSCIENCE CAN EMPOWER (AND INSPIRE) MARKETING

A provocative approach that should give pause to consumers as well as marketers.

The executive vice president of ad agency Deutsch LA argues that successful advertising depends on recognizing “the subtleties of nonverbal communication, body language, and unconscious micro-expressions of emotions.”

In other words, Van Praet writes in his debut, marketers can profitably apply insights from neuropsychology about the biological basis of behavior. As fMRI brain-scan experiments reveal, when subjects are called upon to make decisions, their responses may bypass conscious awareness. People may believe they prefer one brand over another because of taste, but the author cites experiments that mix up labels to demonstrate that this is not always the case. Instead, he explains, we choose brands that are familiar because they evoke pleasant emotions and are “road signs” that allow us to take “mental shortcuts.” As the complexity of our lives increases, we tend “to blindly obey…stereotypical rules of thumb that make our decisions for us.” Van Praet suggests that our inborn need for social attachment can be tapped in today's complex, consumption-based society by treating buyers as members of communities whose buying preferences are a mark of their self-identity. He offers illustrations of steps that a marketer can take to appeal to potential buyers on an unconscious level, such as a Deutsch ad for the VW Passat that featured a little boy dressed as Darth Vader deploying the force to start the car (a Super Bowl attention-getter). He compares the special garments of the Catholic clergy to the white lab coats featured in pharmaceutical ads as examples of the hypnotic power of authority in unconscious branding. Suggesting that the time has come for a more creative approach, he mocks the use of market surveys. To question consumers about their product choices, he writes, is as sensible as “asking the political affiliation of a tuna fish sandwich.”

A provocative approach that should give pause to consumers as well as marketers.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-230-34179-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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