Archive for November, 2009
In “The Tao of Innovation,” which you can find on on psychologytoday.com, Moses Ma writes that “Understanding the psychology of Twitter as a case study helps innovators learn how to better predict and even invent emerging white space market opportunities.” Quite.
What’s particularly interesting is how Ma takes this relatively new technology and shows how it fits into a a nearly 70-year-old theory on human motivation, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s kind of a nice way for marketers to think about the different roles Twitter can play in the lives of its users. Does it soothe their existential anxiety by reassuring them that they belong to a tribe? Does it, as an essentially narcissistic form of communication, raise their self-esteem? Do they use it to self-actualize? Or something else entirely?
The bottom line: Knowing that your target audience uses Twitter is not an insight. Knowing why they do is.
A new study published in Health Psychology by Jennifer Harris, John Bargh and Kelly Brownell of Yale says in so many words that whether we realize it or not every food ad we see on television (or in any other medium) is actually an ad for whatever food we have in the pantry at the moment:
“Children consumed 45% more when exposed to food advertising. Adults consumed more of both healthy and unhealthy snack foods following exposure to snack food advertising compared to the other conditions. In both experiments, food advertising increased consumption of products not in the presented advertisements, and these effects were not related to reported hunger or other conscious influences.”
What’s interesting about this is that the basic idea of food appears to be stronger than any specific suggestion made by advertising. The authors conclude:
“These experiments demonstrate the power of food advertising to prime automatic eating behaviors and thus influence far more than brand preference alone.”
In other words, much as we want our ads to be rifles, they are shotguns. Let those who claim otherwise be condemned to eat nothing but Milk Duds for all eternity.