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Why we lie to market researchers and how we cannot recall any ads

BuyologyI have been enjoying the book Buyology: Thruth and Lies About Why We Buy, which is based on a three-year neuromarketing study that involved brain scans of 2,000 volunteers from all over the world.

The book is a great read and describes some amazing findings – like the fact that the cigarette warnings on cigarette packages and ads may in fact be the killer marketing tool for cigarette manufacturers, as it induces craving for smoking in smokers.

Another finding is that we tend to lie to market researchers – not consciously, it’s just that our unconscious mind is better at interpreting our behavior (including why we buy)  than our conscious mind. Needless to say that this finding spells disaster for the market research industry, on which companies spent $12 billion in 2007 in the US alone.

And if you thought it was getting harder to reach people with your advertising, check out the following passage:

By the time we reach the age of sixty-six, most of us  will have seen approximately two million television  commercials. Time-wise, that’s the equivalent of  watching eight hours of ads seven days a week for six  years straight. In 1965 a typical consumer had a 34  percent recall of those ads. In 1990, that figure had  fallen to 8 percent. A 2007 ACNielsen phone survey of  one thousand consumers found that the average  person could name a mere 2.21 commercials of those  they had ever seen, ever, period.1 Today, if I ask most  people what companies sponsored their favorite TV  shows—say, Lost or House or The Office—their faces go  blank. They can’t remember a single one. I don’t blame  them. Goldfish, I read once, have a working memory of  approximately seven seconds—so every seven  seconds, they start their lives all over again. Reminds  me of the way I feel when I watch TV commercials.

Yikes…

The book also describes the importance of mirror neurons on buying behavior, the importance of “cool” on genetic survival, and much more…maybe I’ll have a few more posts on the topic in the near future.

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