Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Red is Power

Read is the ultimate power colour according to research, and can unleash attraction, otherwise not present. Rochester reports:

"Simply wearing the color red or being bordered by the rosy hue makes a man more attractive and sexually desirable to women, according to a series of studies by researchers at the University of Rochester and other institutions. And women are unaware of this arousing effect.

The cherry color's charm ultimately lies in its ability to make men appear more powerful, says lead author Andrew Elliot, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. "We found that women view men in red as higher in status, more likely to make money and more likely to climb the social ladder. And it's this high-status judgment that leads to the attraction," Elliot says."

Read the study here.

Previous research indicates shows that this is also a fact regarding male attraction to women. Read this article from 2008 to learn more.o

Monday, August 30, 2010

Online Shopping and the Problem with Pictures

What if the thing that gets online shoppers to buy a product is also the thing that makes them dissatisfied with the product when it arrives? Read the interesting post by Jacqueline (Jax) Conard here.o

Luring shoppers with new technology


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why Do Consumer Loyalty Rewards Programs Need Careful Crafting?

In order to be competitive, companies can go overboard in trying to come up with creative designs for the loyalty reward programs. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, some of these designs can lead to unintended consequences.

Authors Rajesh Bagchi and Xingbo Li (both Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) compared reward programs where consumers could achieve the same six-percent discount by reaching either 1,000 points or 100 points. In each case, consumers had to spend $100. They found that ways rewards are structured—the “steps” and the magnitude of the reward system—elicited strikingly different reactions.

The distances appeared larger in the higher magnitude program, so consumers near the reward (with 800 points) felt that they had made much more progress relative to those farther away (with 200 points), as they had accumulated many more points. But participants who were near the reward in the smaller reward program (with 80 points) did not feel that they made more progress relative to those farther away (with 20 points).

The authors found that, even though the reward was the same in both instances, the magnitude of the program affected consumers’ perceptions. “Consumers are cognitive misers and do not do the necessary calculations to assess redemption costs. Instead, they use step-sizes to form impressions,” the authors write. If step-sizes are large, the reward appears attainable as the progress-rate appears high (10 points/dollar). Because of the giant step-sizes, perceptions of those closer to the reward do not differ from those farther away. However, when stepsizes are smaller (1 point/dollar), those close to the reward believe that they have made a lot of progress, given the baby steps, relative to those farther away. The authors also found that these progress perceptions affected loyalty and the likelihood of recommending a program. They believe their findings could be applied to organizations that wish to create programs that encourage financial savings or weight loss.

Rajesh Bagchi and Xingbo Li. “Illusionary Progress in Loyalty Programs: Magnitudes, Reward-Distances, and Step-Size Ambiguity.” Journal of Consumer Research: February 2011.o

Who Are You Calling “Hipster”? Consumers Defy Labels and Stereotypes

What happens when the products you love become labeled as “trendy” or “hipster”? Consumers who identify with these products find creative ways to remain loyal and elude derision, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. “From the rebellious aura of Harley-Davidson bikes to the utopian ethos of Star Trek, iconic brands and constellations of lifestyle goods exude symbolic meanings that attract consumers in an almost magnet-like fashion,” write authors Zeynep Arsel (Concordia University) and Craig J. Thompson (University of Wisconsin-Madison). But sometimes these mythic meanings reach a cultural tipping point where a marketplace myth degenerates into a cultural cliché—for example yuppies, metrosexuals, urban gangstas, and hipsters. Prior research shows that some consumers will abandon consumption practices once their associated meanings are no longer positive, but the authors believe this may be an oversimplification. Instead, they found that consumers are able to “demythologize” their consumption practices to distance themselves from unfavorable labels.

The authors investigated the category of “hipster,” which has gained attention from the mass media in recent years. “This iconic category has evolved from its countercultural roots, originally aligned with beat sensibilities, to a trend-seeking über-consumer of the 2000s,” the authors write. They analyze the hipster icon and note how it has become a trivializing label for indie consumption practices.

The authors interviewed individuals who participated in the indie marketplace as consumers or tastemakers (such as DJs and music critics). The researchers did not mention hipsters in the interview. “Interestingly all participants but one wanted to
talk about how they were mistaken for, or accused of being a hipster just because they were consuming indie products,” the authors write. “Our findings suggest how backlash against identity categories such as hipster or metrosexual could generate complex and nuanced identity strategies that enable consumers to retain their tastes and interests while protecting these tastes from trivializing mythologies,” the authors conclude.

Zeynep Arsel and Craig J. Thompson. “Demythologizing Consumption Practices: How Consumers Protect Their Field-Dependent Identity Investments from Devaluing Marketplace Myths.” Journal of Consumer Research: February 2011.o

Tesco trials drive-thru store

Tesco this week launches the country’s first-ever drive-thru supermarket to help busy customers who want their shop picked and packed but who don’t have the time to wait at home for delivery.

Run by the Tesco dotcom team – who deliver more shopping to more homes than any other grocery retailer in Europe – the service means customers can pick up their shop at a supermarket without having to leave their cars.

‘This will be especially popular with busy mums who have the school run and children’s activities to manage,’ explained Laura Wade-Gery, CEO of Tesco dotcom and Tesco Direct. ‘It also offers a solution to parents who want to avoid the challenge of shopping in a busy store with children in tow but can’t afford the time to stay in for the shop to arrive to their door.

‘We also expect it to help young professionals who want the convenience of a pre-picked and packed shop but who cannot commit to waiting at home for delivery. They can collect their shop on their way home from work or at any other time that suits them during our extensive collection hours.’

The trial launches at Tesco’s Baldock Extra store, Hertfordshire and if it is successful may be rolled out to additional areas. Customers order their shopping as usual on the Tesco.com website, choosing the ‘Click and Collect’ option and booking a two-hour collection slot. They can collect anytime inside this two-hour window.

Customers drive up to a reserved area in the car park, which will be signposted, and pull into a covered space to show a member of staff their shopping reference details. Staff come to the customer’s car window so there is no need to get out, and the shopping is then packed into the boot. Any substitutions will be flagged up as with any home delivery – and the same policies and price guarantees apply, so if a substitution with a more expensive item is offered, the original, lower price will be charged. A flat £2 picking and packing charge will apply instead of the sliding scale of home delivery charges, which begin at £3. As with home delivery dotcom orders, the charge is added to the shopping bill so no money transaction takes place at the Click and Collect point.

Once the shopping is packed, the customer then simply drives home. For the trial, shopping will be held in a Tesco.com delivery van awaiting collections and if this is successful, Tesco will explore how stores could be adapted for the future to make drive-through shopping a permanent service.

The trial comes as Tesco opens its latest dotcom store in Greenford in response to increasing customer demand for online deliveries in West London. The store will introduce an earlier delivery time of 7am for customers in its catchment area and will deliver using a new fleet of vans running from landfill gas. Delivery volumes will initially reach 11,000 per week with the capacity to double this as demand increases. The store will employ 600 people and incorporates a number of environmental initiatives such as rainwater harvesting and delivering energy back to the grid from its biodiesel heat and power unit.o

Why Social Media Campaigns fail


Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Future of Retail

The 1992 version, that is...


Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Last Exorcism

Chatroulette as a guerilla marketing tool for The Last Exorcism; sometimes what you see is not what you think it is. Boohoo!


Mobile Marketing for next to shop marketing


Did Al Gore really invent the internet?

He might be underestimated after all...

Watch the Top Ten Political Blunders on Technology by FastCompany.o

Thursday, August 19, 2010

When Choice is Demotivating

The very short version:
Retailers! Trim your range, sell more! To many choices will make it hard for consumers to make up their minds.

The intermediate version:
Current psychological theory and research affirm the positive affective and motivational consequences of having personal choice. These findings have led to the popular notion that more choice is better, that the human ability to desire and manage choice is unlimited. Findings from three studies starkly challenge the implicit assumption that having more choice is necessarily more intrinsically motivating than having fewer options. These three experiments which were conducted in field and laboratory settings show that people are more likely to purchase exotic jams or gourmet chocolates, and undertake optional class essay assignments, when offered a limited array of 6 choices rather than an extensive array of 24 or 30 choices. Moreover, participants actually reported greater subsequent satisfaction with their selections and wrote better essays when their original set of options had been restricted rather than expanded.

The long version: Click hereo

Why Trends Matter

McKinsey director Peter Bisson explains the value of tracking global forces and how to build them into corporate strategy.


Sexy spending

In the research paper “Peacock, Porches and Thorstein Veblen, Conspicuous consumption as a sexual signaling system, researchers (Jill M. Sundie, Douglas T. Kenrick, Vladas Griskevicius, Kathleen D. Vohs, and Joshua M. Tybur) have examined the link between spending and mating strategy. Conspicuous consumption is a form of economic behavior in which self-presentational concerns override desires to obtain goods at bargain prices. Showy spending may be a social signal directed at potential mates. Researchers investigated such signals by examining which individuals send them, which context triggers them and how observers interpret them. Three experiments demonstrated that conspicuous consumption is driven by men who are following a lower-investment mating strategy, and is triggered specifically by short –term mating motives. A fourth experiment showed that observers interpret such signals accurately, with women perceiving men who conspicuously consume interesting in short-term mating. Furthermore, conspicuous purchasing enhanced men´s desirability as a short-term (but not as a long-term mate) mate. Overall, these findings suggest that flaunting status-linked goods to potential mates is not simply about displaying economic resources. Instead conspicuous consumption appears to be a part of a more precise signaling system focused on short-term mating. Read the full 56 page research paper here.

More on spending or projected spending capability and sexual attraction in The Science of Sex Appeal in the YouTubeclip here, where attractiveness depends on income rather than lookso

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Five days of plenty

Recent research shows that women experience nonconscious shifts across different phases of the monthly ovulatory cycle. For example, women at peak fertility (near ovulation) are attracted to different kinds of men and show increased desire to attend social gatherings. Building on the evolutionary logic behind such effects, we examined how, why, and when hormonal fluctuations associated with ovulation influenced women’s product choices. In three experiments, we show that at peak fertility women nonconsciously choose products that enhance appearance (e.g., choosing sexy rather than more conservative clothing). This hormonally-regulated effect appears to be driven by a desire to outdo attractive rival women. Consequently, minimizing the salience of attractive women who are potential rivals suppresses the ovulatory effect on product choice. This research provides some of the first evidence of how, why, and when consumer behavior is influenced by hormonal factors.

Read the full article here.o

Assvertising by Levis

More than half of women try on at least 10 pairs of jeans before finding one that fits! Nike´s new assresearch has lead to the introduction a "revolutionary custom-fit system" that involved taking 3-D images of 60,000 backsides to break down ladies' derrieres into three types: slight curve, demi curve and bold curve:


Mother of All Kitchens

IKEA predicts that by 2040, your kitchen will be ALIVE

According to an independent Future Kitchen report by The Future Laboratory, commissioned by home furnishing specialists IKEA, by 2040 your kitchen will be your personal trainer, dietician, psychologist and lifestyle coach. It will respond to your energy levels, nutritional needs and mood, even with a high use of technology, it will also be sustainable and eco-friendly.

It’s a case of Big Mother meets Mother Nature.

In thirty years time, the kitchen will be so technologically advanced that it will almost be alive, responding actively to our needs like only a mother could. To reflect this IKEA has created an image of the future kitchen – INTUITIV.

As you walk into the INTUITIV kitchen of the future, LED light projections adjust to your mood – it will know if you have a hangover via sensors that will read your brainwaves. Aromatherapy infused walls will be synced to your calendar, calming you before a big meeting or energising you before a gym session. The fridge will have selected some breakfast options, identifying the essential vitamins for your day via sensors. When you get home, a hologrammed chef will be on hand for recipe inspiration.

“The INTUITIV kitchen is a possible kitchen of the future with over one third of the UK population (41%) expecting that by 2040 we won’t even have to cook for ourselves,” says Carole Reddish, Deputy Managing Director of IKEA UK & Ireland. “Two more possible future kitchen scenarios are the ELEMENTARA, a kitchen which sees a return to nature, and SKARP, with seamless smart technology.”

ELEMENTARA – The Back to Nature Kitchen

Nearly half of us (44%) think that the most important feature in our future kitchen will be energy saving

The ELEMENTARA kitchen will encourage you to grow your own food and be self-sufficient with a garden or mini allotment as a standard extension of the room. Food will be kept cool through cold larders and recycling facilities will be seamlessly incorporated into the kitchen.

Over two thirds of UK consumers (67%) try to buy energy efficient appliances suggesting that ‘green awareness’ is on the rise. IKEA already has products such as the RINGSKAR taps with a flow control function to avoid water waste and the RATIONELL recycling bins which help make household recycling easier.

The ELEMENTARA kitchen suggests that we will be going back to basics, making the most of natural physics rather than technology and avoiding energy consumption where possible. This is a core design principle at IKEA with products such as the oven hood extractor fans which can go in the dishwasher (a clean fan is much more energy efficient than a dirty one), the PS RESKEN bench which is composed of just three pieces of wood with no nails or screws (your weight simply locks the construction when you sit on it) and the PS BRUSE coffee table that looks solid but actually has hollow legs (to reduce the amount of wood used.) All IKEA appliances are also Energy class A rated.

SKARP – The Smart Kitchen

Over half of us (57%) think that technology will boost our kitchen experience

This kitchen will be intelligent, predicting its inhabitants’ needs with smart technology. Synchronized appliances will make everything happen at the touch of a button, communicating through iPad style devices which will act as the brain of the kitchen, making our lives easier.

For the one third of Brits (41%) who expect that by 2040 they will no longer need to clean, their dreams are set to come true with smart surfaces creating self-cleaning kitchens. We will also never feel guilty for forgetting the recycling because your kitchen will have done it for you.

SKARP will also encourage energy efficient behaviour with devices like phone-apps which control our carbon emissions and thermostats which respond to our voices and fingerprints.

“With the majority of us spending the total of nearly a month in the kitchen over one year, it is the heart of the home” explains Carole Reddish. “IKEA is constantly innovating behind the scenes to respond to changes and challenges to life at home so we can offer solutions that best meet peoples’ needs. We think that the economy, social changes, concerns for our health and especially the environment will greatly influence kitchen design in the future. Both today, and in 2040 we will be able to help people live a more sustainable life at home in their kitchens, help them organise and personalise their living space to suit their needs and always at the best value for money. Excellent design and quality will never be compromised. In fact all IKEA kitchens already today come with a 25 year guarantee so they are built to last!”

These numbers correlate to the objects in the picture above:

1.) Food is grown on this shelf without soil.
2.) 3D food printer
3.) Fridge, with an interactive 3D screen.
4.) Multi-touch tap.
5.) Self-cleaning surfaces.
6.) This tool displays nutritional info of ingredients
7.) Remote-controlled cooker
8.) Retractable shelves
9.) Height-adjustable cabinets
10.) Energy monitor
11.) Genetically-engineered food.
12.) Roll-out chopping boards and draws.o

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Frequency in communication

Beeing a consumer today involves beeing overloaded with offers and deals of all sorts, in all channels and at any time of day. There are different views on whether marketing should be concentrated into high peak campaigns or whether messages should be distributed over time on a lower level of communication density. A new brand or product often need a boost in order to get into the minds, and the same goes if you are selling highly seasonial product such as Christmas Trees. But if you are not in the market for the product or service, chances are that your message is getting filtered out by the brain as beeing irrelevant information at the time, a principle known as cognitive dissonance. If you on the other hand is in an active search process in order to buy any item, chances are that even a minor campaign will be noticed as it corresponds to the interest from the potential buyer´s point of view.

In 1885, Thomas Smith, a successful businessman in London said it like this:

1. The first time a man looks at an advertisement, he does not see it.
2. The second time, he does not notice it.
3. The third time, he is conscious of its existence.
4. The fourth time, he faintly remembers having seen it before.
5. The fifth time, he reads it.
6. The sixth time, he turns up his nose at it.
7. The seventh time, he reads it through and says, “Oh brother!”
8. The eighth time, he says, “Here’s that confounded thing again!”
9. The ninth time, he wonders if it amounts to anything.
10. The tenth time, he asks his neighbor if he has tried it.
11. The eleventh time, he wonders how the advertiser makes it pay.
12. The twelfth time, he thinks it must be a good thing.
13. The thirteenth time, he thinks perhaps it might be worth something.
14. The fourteenth time, he remembers wanting such a thing a long time.
15. The fifteenth time, he is tantalized because he cannot afford to buy it.
16. The sixteenth time, he thinks he will buy it some day.
17. The seventeenth time, he makes a memorandum to buy it.
18. The eighteenth time, he swears at his poverty.
19. The nineteenth time, he counts his money carefully.
20. The twentieth time he sees the ad, he buys what it is offering.

Using frequency as a tool, ie beeing visible over time, ready to be at hand as consumers enters the market, does not excuse poor content. It only ensures that your marketing effort is beeing seen when people are ready to.o

Monday, August 16, 2010

John Cleese on creativity


Saturday, August 14, 2010

The history of Marketing Channels

Watch larger picture here.o

The World of Social Media and other Internet POI

Great visualization of the magnitude of todays major players of the www. Watch it here.o

Friday, August 13, 2010

Marketing for Growth

Som key findings from the 20 page report from Accenture:

- Nearly eight in 10 respondents said growing profitably was most important to their current marketing strategy.

- About 60 percent expect to grow market share and revenues in the coming fiscal year.

- More than 40 percent said that increased profitability has become more important over the last two years—but that operating efficiently remains important to drive growth.

- A majority of respondents believe that the downturn has heightened customer expectations for value, product quality and service—and that these changes are likely to be lasting.

- Sixty-two percent believe that the marketing organization will change fundamentally over the next five years.

- Nearly 80 percent expected little to no growth in marketing budgets—or an actual decline.

Download the report here.o

Consumers Find Ways to Spend Less and Find Happiness...

"SHE had so much. A two-bedroom apartment. Two cars. Enough wedding china to serve two dozen people. Yet Tammy Strobel wasn’t happy. Working as a project manager with an investment management firm in Davis, Calif., and making about $40,000 a year, she was, as she put it, caught in the “work-spend treadmill.” So one day she stepped off."

“It’s better to go on a vacation than buy a new couch’ is basically the idea,” says Professor Dunn, summing up research by two fellow psychologists, Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich. Her own take on the subject is in a paper she wrote with colleagues at Harvard and the University of Virginia: “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right.”

Read the article from NY Times here.o

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Free report

Learn about the Social Retailing All Stars and what they do to make it happen.

Download it here.o

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Media isn´t social

David Armano - Reinventing Social Media


New Nielsen Report

Download "How People Watch: A Global Nielsen Consumer Report" here.o

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Heineken home improvement tip

Consider this in your next home improvement project:


Saturday, August 7, 2010

The famous Old Spice Campaign - does it work?

Last month I wrote about the Old Spice campaign. Here is an update on the background and how the campaign has delivered so far:


Friday, August 6, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect? Consumers Overestimate their Ability to Learn Prior to Purchase

Consumers give up on using products because they underestimate their learning abilities, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Authors Darron Billeter (Brigham Young University), Ajay Kalra (Rice University), and George Loewenstein (Carnegie Mellon University) found that consumers are overconfident in their abilities to learn skill-based products before they try them out. But as soon as they gain experience with the product they often quit using it. “Anyone who has tried, then rapidly abandoned snowboarding, knitting, fancy new software or the calendar on their iPod can probably ruefully relate,” the authors write.

The authors studied tasks new to most people, which wouldn’t take long to learn in a lab setting, like typing on a keyboard with an unfamiliar layout, tracing lines while only being able to view the tracing in a mirror, and folding t-shirts in a novel way. Participants were given verbal instructions and then were asked to predict how rapidly they would be able to perform the task. Initially, participants overestimated their abilities. Next, participants were given a short amount of experience with the task and were asked to predict how rapidly they would be able to perform the task, both in the short term and longer term. “Not only were subjects overly pessimistic about their ability to perform the task in the short term, but they were also overly pessimistic about their ability to improve over time,” the authors write. Participants began correctly predicting their performance after four rounds (20 minutes) of underpredicting. Because of this initial discouragement, the authors discovered that consumers were willing to pay more for a keyboard before they had tried it than they were after they gained a few minutes experience with it.

“Much of parenting is about teaching children that persistence pays off—that tasks that initially seem difficult become easier with practice,” the authors write. “The results of these studies suggest that, despite the lessons our parents might have sought to teach us, most of us have not fully learned the lesson.” Darron Billeter, Ajay Kalra, and George Loewenstein. “Underpredicting Learning Following Initial Experience with a Product.” Journal of Consumer Research: February 2011.o

Thursday, August 5, 2010

BCG Report


Two presentations worth watching


Christmas in July?!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The future of health

A new interesting collection of insights from PSFK.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You Are How You Eat - Fast Food and Impatience

Interesting abstract from a recent article in Psycological Science by Chen-Bo Zhong and Sanford E. DeVoe:

"Based on recent advancements in the behavioral priming literature, three experiments investigated how incidental exposure to fast food can induce impatient behaviors and choices outside of the eating domain. We found that even an unconscious exposure to fast-food symbols can automatically increase participants’ reading speed when they are under no time pressure and that thinking about fast food increases preferences for time-saving products while there are potentially many other product dimensions to consider. More strikingly, we found that mere exposure to fast-food symbols reduced people’s willingness to save and led them to prefer immediate gain over greater future return, ultimately harming their economic interest. Thus, the way people eat has far-reaching (often unconscious) influences on behaviors and choices unrelated to eating."o

Global slowdown ahead?

New York, 3 August 2010—In the third quarter issue of the Global Economic Outlook, Deloitte Research examines the current economic environment and, in particular, the strength and sustainability of growth in the global markets.

Highlights of the Q3 issue:

Examines the difference of opinion between Europe and U.S. policymakers on the role of fiscal policy in the economic recovery and the rate at which deficits should be reduced in order to improve economic performance of the markets.
The weak job and housing markets of the U.S. economy point to a disappointing economic recovery so far, but some positive signs remain. Deloitte Research believes the U.S. economy will likely continue to grow and avoid a double-dip.
Although China continues to grow rapidly, several factors could affect the sustainability of this growth, including consumer price inflation, property prices, labor unrest, and exchange rate policy.
Brazil is experiencing strong consumer-led economic growth, although inflation is higher than desired. In the long term, Brazil’s fortunes will likely depend on a mix of good policy and a strong global economy.
The recovery in Europe is on track. Economic activity has rebounded faster than expected, spurred on by a weaker currency and fast-growing external demand. Against international pressure to continue stimulating domestic demand, politicians are working to bring spending under control, which should help the Eurozone sustain growth in the long-term.
In Russia, economic activity has picked up in recent months, fueled by external demand for commodity exports and a recovery in domestic demand. However, Russia’s reliance on the energy sector remains a key macroeconomic risk, weighing on the country's long-term growth prospects.
Japan’s economy is advancing faster than anticipated, with this improvement triggering an upward revision of growth forecasts. However, Japan’s continuing dependence on exports and weak domestic demand means that growth at current levels are likely not sustainable.
The United Kingdom is switching from a period of growth driven by government and the consumer, to one led by exports, capital spending, and industrial output. Fiscal tightening is likely to slow the recovery, at least in the short term. However, a more aggressive plan for fiscal consolidation has helped to boost the UK’s credibility with bond investors and the ratings agencies. The most likely outlook remains a sluggish and erratic, but continuing, recovery.
Higher than anticipated growth in the manufacturing, mining, and agricultural sectors heightened the euphoria around India’s resilience against the global economic downturn. Much of India’s near-term economic fortunes will depend on the monsoons. Less rainfall than expected would negatively impact the agricultural sector, which accounts for 15 percent of the country’s national income, and lead to higher inflation.

Attributed to Ira Kalish, Director of Global Economics, Deloitte Research, part of Deloitte Services LP in the United States

“A global economic recovery continues to advance, but the strength of this growth is uncertain in the world’s biggest markets: the United States, Europe, and China. While there have been a number of positive indications that markets worldwide are growing, until these largest economies attain sustainable growth, the strength and stamina of the global recovery will remain questionable.”

Download the full report here.o

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Consumers Love Underdogs

Consumers strongly relate to brands that they perceive as underdogs, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

“Across contexts, cultures, and time periods, underdog narratives have inspired people. Stories about underdogs are pervasive in sports, politics, religion, literature, and film,” write authors Neeru Paharia, Anat Keinan (both Harvard University), Jill Avery (Simmons School of Management), and Juliet B. Schor (Boston College). The authors examined the ways many contemporary brand narratives highlight companies’ humble beginnings and struggles against powerful adversaries. For example, Nantucket Nectars’ label says the company started “with only a blender and a dream,” while Google, Clif Bar, HP, and Apple emphasize that they started in garages. “Underdog brand biographies contain two important narrative components: a disadvantaged position versus an adversary and passion and determination to beat the odds,” the authors write.

The authors found that consumers identify with underdog stories because most people have felt disadvantaged at one time or another. In a series of four experiments, the researchers found that consumers identify with underdog brands and are more likely to purchase them. They also confirmed that brand biographies that contain both external disadvantage and passion and determination generate the strongest purchase interest.

According to the authors, both Singaporean and American participants preferred underdog brands, but Americans were even more drawn to the come-from-behind stories. “The American Dream, the fabled American myth, is built on the stories of underdogs who came to the United States with virtually nothing and pulled themselves up from their bootstraps to achieve success,” the authors write. The study participants were given a choice of a chocolate bar as compensation for being in the study. They chose the underdog brand 71 percent of the time. Neeru Paharia, Anat Keinan, Jill Avery, and Juliet B. Schor. “The Underdog Effect: The Marketing of Disadvantage and Determination through Brand Biography.” Journal of Consumer Research: February 2011.o

On Social media ROI