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The new new marketing

The New York Times describes how the new new marketing research works: Instead of using focus groups and questionnaires to ask people what they think they think, marketers use visual imagery to get at what they really think.

New marketing guru Gerald Zaltman believes that "consumers can't tell you what they think because they just don't know," the Times writes. "Their deepest thoughts, the ones that account for their behavior in the marketplace, are unconscious. Not only that, (Zaltman) insists, those thoughts are primarily visual as well."

I'm not buying the hype about this being any market research panacea — it's still very hard to do good, scientific research without screwing up somewhere, and this won't change that — but it's worth noting that it ties in nicely with an earlier article, also discussed here, about how many of our motivations and impulses for gratification are apparently subconscious. It makes sense that marketers would want to find ways to learn about how their products tap into those impulses.

It's also legitimately frightening, however. If we really are ruled to such a large extent by our subconscious, it might not be especially desirable for us to have corporations attach a profit motive to exploiting that.

February 28, 2002 12:24 AM

Comments (and TrackBacks)

Frightening indeed. We protect our children from exploitation both commercial and non-commercial because they are not mature enough to make rational decisions. It appears that perhaps we all need protection.

Posted by Norman Jenson on February 28, 2002 12:36 AM

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