Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Does Apple make you think different?

Researchers from the University of Waterloo and Duke University have attempted to answer the questions:

"Does the [subliminal] impact of brand exposure end with purchasing decisions or can it extend to behaviors unrelated to the products the brand represents? In other words, can brands cause people to behave rudely or win more points at Trivial Pursuit?"

You can read a summary here or the 'Prepublished' paper (which will appear in the Journal of Consumer Research) here .

Despite the headlines claiming evidence that Apple's brand "makes you think creatively" and Disney "makes you behave more honestly", there are reasons to be skeptical. In the authors own words, "...brands play a less central role in life than do people, and one of less affective value." This would seem self-evident, of course, to anyone participating in the social media/social influence evolution.

Though it appears well designed, the experiment uses subliminal exposure to brand logos and then measures the amount and degree of 'creativity' or 'honesty' that results. Hard not to define these as soft measures. And while I think the researchers have done an admirable job of constructing a solid experimental method, it isn't the experimental construct that appears fallible...rather, it's that the hypothesis...(does subliminal brand exposure influence behavior) is built on a premise (brand impact) that remains itself the subject of great debate.

Also telling may be the conclusions of the researchers themselves:

“Instead of spending the majority of their money on traditional print and television advertising, companies with established brand associations such as Apple may want to give serious consideration to shifting more marketing resources to product placement opportunities and other forms of outreach that emphasize brief brand exposures,” Gavan Fitzsimons said.

As someone once said "I'll see it when I beleive it".

No comments:

Post a Comment