A leading marketing guru recounts his firsthand experiences investigating the lives of consumers to develop global branding strategies.
“A great brand promises hope, the contagion of coolness, or desirability, or love, or romance, or acceptance, or luxury, or youth, or sophistication, or high-quality technology,” writes Lindstrom (Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, 2011, etc.), who has traveled in more than 75 countries on behalf of the world’s top companies. In an engaging, highly readable book filled with wonderful, surprising stories, he recalls spending time in people’s homes “watching, listening, noticing, and teasing out clues” to what consumers really want. In Russia, disparate clues (the lack of mirrors, the abundance of refrigerator magnets, and the brightly painted lips of housewives) allowed him to recognize women’s need to express their feminine sides, which he helped a wealthy businessman meet by creating an online company devoted to mothers and children. In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, certain clues tipped him off to people’s longing for new shopping experiences: he helped his client, a supermarket chain, make itself over into an exciting destination, where everyone dances to a “Chicken Dance” song whenever a barbecued chicken comes out of the oven. Elsewhere, he gathers “small data” on the rituals, habits, gestures, and preferences of consumers to help develop a loyalty-building charm bracelet for Jenny Craig, finds ways to boost sales for a Swiss-French fashion label by appealing to both “the teddy bear and the sophisticated Victoria’s Secret model” sides of young women, and guides a cereal manufacturer in methods to attract both sides of a love-hate relationship (daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law) in India. Always focusing on “what people didn’t do,” rather than what they did, the author writes at length on the importance of aspiration and superstition in shaping people’s desires.
Lindstrom’s uncanny ability to detect and decipher seemingly unrelated clues will inspire reporters and detectives as well as companies looking for ways to develop new products and ideas.