Articles

Enjoy Martin Lindstrom's complimentary articles. The views shared by Martin Lindstrom in the following articles have not necessarily been approved or endorsed by any of the featured companies. Lindstrom operates under a Non Disclosure Agreement and thus all statements made by Lindstrom in his articles are made in his role as an independent observer and not as a consultant – this includes all those cases where Lindstrom has worked or currently works as a consultant to the companies or brands featured.

Ethical Guideline Video

Martin Lindstrom talks about ethics in marketing and why it will be so important in the future. Click to see the video.

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Risk Management Magazine: Book Review – Brandwashed

By Morgan O’Rourke, Editor in Chief of Risk Management Most people believe they are media-savvy. We assume that advertisers and marketers use some, shall we say, “creative” ways to get us to buy the products they’re selling, but we like to think that we don’t fall for their tricks. Except that we do. It’s not like we have much choice. These companies are just that good.And in the fascinating book Brandwashed, marketing insider Martin Lindstrom reveals how they do it. The pitch begins at conception. Researchers have found that infants can remember advertising jingles and be drawn to the taste of certain foods that they were exposed to in the womb. By 18 months, children can recognize brands. Advertisers know this so they create simple jingles and cartoon mascots to program kids to favor a particular brand. From there, marketers have us hooked. They employ imperceptible, emotional appeals using anything from fear to sex to nostalgia to spirituality. We buy hand sanitizer, scented body wash, vintage-styled clothing and goji berry yogurt because companies have convinced us that they will protect us from bacteria, attract the opposite sex, make us seem younger and keep us as healthy as a Buddhist monk, even though intellectually we know this can’t be true. And on top of that, the latest data mining technology allows companies to quietly glean information from social media profiles, web-surfing histories, smartphone records and retail loyalty cards to craft a detailed picture of not only what we are most likely to be interested in purchasing, but what kind of person we are, right down to our marital status and sexual orientation. The watchful eye of the marketer is all-knowing and virtually inescapable. After reading Brandwashed, you may never look at an advertisement, marketing pitch or product the same way, but […]

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Net Worlding Blog: Brandwashed – A book review by Bob Morris

By Bob Morris October 31, 2011 Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy Martin Lindstrom Crown Business (2011) What the most effective marketers know about consumers, how they know it, and why consumers should be concerned Others have shared their opinions of this book and their opinions certainly cover a wide spectrum. Some praise or criticize Martin Lindstrom’s writing stile, others praise or criticize his premises and conclusions, and still other praise or criticize both. I’m going to pass on the writing style and focus on what I consider to be among his most important points. Marketers face much greater challenges today than ever before in terms of attracting and then sustaining the attention of consumers who find themselves buried by “blizzards” of information conveyed by thousands of daily messages that create “clutter.” Lindstrom explains how marketers are responding to those challenges. First, they create or increase demand for what they offer with implicit rather than explicit tactics. Vance Packard wrote about “the hidden persuaders” in a book bearing that title, first published in 1957. In Brandwashed, Lindstrom examines what could be characterized as “the stealth persuaders.” For example, we learn that shoppers in American department stores who are exposed to Muzak with a slow tempo shop 18% longer and purchase 17% more than do those who shop in silence. However, in fast food restaurants, Muzak with much faster beats is played “to increase the rate at which a person chews.” Marketers are also making highly effective use of the latest technologies, notably functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to identify what consumers really want even if they don’t as yet know it. Electronic measurement of the brain (especially the functions of the subconscious mind) suggests reveals what does and doesn’t attract and retain attention, […]

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NeuroMarketing: Contagious Dissatisfaction

by Roger Dooley on 31 October, 2011 Most businesses wouldn’t question that it’s a good idea to resolve problems quickly to prevent erosion of their reputaton, but many don’t do a particularly good job of it. Even when it’s too late to fix the actual problem, an apology can mollify that customer and even result in reversal of the public criticism (see: Apologies Really DO Work). Martin Lindstrom, author of the best-selling Brandwashed, conducted a simple but telling experiment in a cooperative restaurant: We set up a table in the middle of the restaurant, and four actors were hired to pretend to be friends sharing the conviviality of a meal. They all ordered the soup, since it was the only starter on the menu, thus allowing an element of control. After breaking some bread and taking his first mouthful, one of the actors called for the waiter and proceeded to deliver a three-minute rant about the scalding temperature of the soup. As the soup continued to be served to the other tables, the complaints began rolling in. By the end of the dinner, 26% of the guests had made similar complaints. Each bowl had come from the same pot, so either they had extremely sensitive tongues or they had all been influenced by the initial complaint. [Emphasis added. From TIME Ideas: Monkey See, Monkey Buy.] The Nocebo Effect This isn’t unlike what is shown by research on medication side effects. Subjects given placebo pills with no pharmacological effects will often report experiencing the stated side effects of the “drug.” If people are told they may experience nausea, some actually will. The implication for brands and marketers is similar: if people have reason to expect problems with your product or service, perhaps due to the complaints of other customers in social media, […]

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Freakonomics Blog: Martin Lindstrom Answers Your Questions on Brandwashed

  Last week, we solicited your questions for Martin Lindstrom, a marketing consultant and author of the new book Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade US to Buy Now, Lindstrom returns with his answers to a few of them. As always, thanks to everyone who participated. Q – One more question occurred to me: Marketing is intended to persuade us to buy products, but it also serves another latent function, which is to educate us about new products, about differences between products or about the products themselves. Given this educational benefit, among other benefits, do you think marketing is a net good or a net bad for society on the whole? – NZ A – Some 30 years ago, when Russia was the USSR, brands did not really exist. Yes, Pepsi was present due to an agreement made between the then-U.S. president and the leadership of the USSR, but besides that there was only one product per category. When I investigated this, I realized that this was not entirely true. When “the” fridge was produced (remember there was only one model in total), the manufacturing staff would mark certain refrigerators in order to indicate that more time and better materials went into the production of that particular fridge. At first, these fridges were produced specifically for the senior officials of the government (and the company), however rumours spread, and soon the staff was getting hold of the marked refrigerators whenever they secured the rights to buy “the” fridge. Word continued to get out, and consumers began to search for the marked fridges.  The reality: The company had given birth to a brand without knowing it. If you had two choices — to either live in the USSR without (almost) any brands (one toothpaste option, one car option, one canned soup option), […]

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The sounds of shopping

We tested out the how consumers reacted to different music in an urban retail store. Check out the results:

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Sleeping with the Consumer

 (first published in Fast Company June 08 2011) How well would you say you know your consumer–not just the broad-stroke stuff, either, like their income or marital status. How many of them brush their teeth in the shower? (Answer 4% of the general consumer populace.) How many of the teenagers routinely grab a box of cereal on their first day at college, empty it into a bowl and then begin munching away? (Answer: 37% of first-year students, and it makes them feel closer to home.) Why do so many women bypass the first toilet in the bathroom mall and urgently head directly into the second stall? (Answer: It seems the majority of women believe that the second seat is the cleaner one. Ironically, this leaves the first toilet relatively untouched, and many a toilet in the first cubicle still bears the “sanitized for your protection” notice.) Stupid questions, silly insights, right? But they’re relevant questions and interesting answers if you’re in the business of selling toothpaste, dental floss, breakfast foods, or sanitizing liquids–all items which are part of the $100 billion personal care business. It’s a hugely competitive market sector, and products jostle to find the smallest feature that will give them a marginal edge over their competitors and ideally create a platform for another $1 billion product launch. Here’s the truth: I have come to spend a large part of my time living in consumers’ homes. It began a few years ago when I was asked to the Philippines to help an ailing coffee brand. For years the major coffee manufacturer in the region had attempted to run an advertising campaign during the rainy season. It’s traditionally a time of celebration, and if a coffee brand could “own” this, it would be a license to print money. The coffee […]

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Mini-branding Comes to the Net

Remember the first time you encountered miniature M&M bags at the supermarket? You know, the baby bags that held only 30? Bet you liked them. How about when the mini Toblerone, Snickers and Bounty bars appeared? You might have been able to justify purchasing these small sizes by telling yourself they were convenient. In fact, you probably just thought these miniature versions of the full-size products were cute. Most of us harbor a fascination for miniature things. And manufacturers have noticed this predilection. Mini-products have proven to be huge sales successes, despite the fact that these smaller products sell at proportionately higher prices than their larger predecessors. The tactic is called mini-branding, and it’s not easy to analyze the formula that makes it work. It’s emotionally driven, and often makes no logical sense. It’s not practical to open a bag of M&M’s for every 30 you consume. I suppose if you were eating M&M’s only for the taste you wouldn’t be wrapped up in the idea of small packets. But sales statistics show that this isn’t the case. People love smallness. The reasons for the effectiveness of mini-branding are open to theorizing. But in the end, mini-branding adds a human touch to the product and to the brand. Cuteness immediately creates a relationship between the user and the brand. If that happens in the absence of purely practical reasons, mini-branding has succeeded. So what has this to do with the Internet? Well, mini-branding might just prove to be the next-wave branding trend on the Internet. Why? Because this type of branding draws upon something ineffably appealing to humans: Small and cute charms us. Our sentimental response to cuteness is in major contrast to the working relationship we have with the boring desktop window. After almost 15 years, the only icon […]

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The Race to Map Shopping DNA

We’ve all been there: impulse buying. How often do you go to the supermarket for milk and bread and come out with a cartload of groceries? The supermarket’s aisles are filled with everyday necessities and tempting luxuries that are irresistible to even the most disciplined shoppers. The full-to-overflowing shelves inspire product purchases. By the time you’ve reached the cash register, you find yourself paying for a bunch of items you didn’t intend to buy. The grocery store recognized, decades ago, that not only was self-service more efficient, it could be more profitable. In pre-supermarket days, an attendant behind the counter fetched the goods on your shopping list and packed them into your basket for you. But the advent of the supermarket heralded a new generation of shopping habits. Market research shows that almost 60 percent of all products bought at the supermarket were not premeditated purchases. “It was there. It just happened!” might be the cry heard when a shopper is asked to justify the acquisition of yet another half-gallon of ice cream. But did it “just happen”? Research confirms that supermarket owners are able to predict with 90 percent accuracy what decisions shoppers are likely to make in the aisles of their stores. It’s no accident that you have to pass by the vegetables first and the candy selection last – right by the cash register, where you have to spend some time waiting, with the goodies displayed right at kid height. The strategy ensures that sweet treats, irresistible to kids, gain maximum exposure to their most ardent consumers. This represents a well-known and long-used methodology called space management. A methodology that’s been totally ignored on the web. Many e-commerce fanatics forget that one of the most important differentiators between clicks-based retail and the more traditional bricks-and-mortar kind is […]

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The Future of Retailing

What’s the role of retailing in the Internet marketing future? For many manufacturers, retailers are the only link to their lifeline, the consumer. But in the face of Internet e-tailing possibilities, many manufacturers have spent sleepless nights searching for a way to reconcile their bricks-and-mortar retailing connection with customers vis-`-vis the direct sales potential offered by web marketing. Some manufacturers have stuck with the “safe” bricks-and-mortar arrangement. Others have taken the chance, severed their retailing connection, and found themselves tossing and turning through even more sleepless nights. Only a few manufacturers have taken the step of cutting off their most important revenue channel, the retailer relationship. And the ones that have done this haven’t run the risk of losing everything. The story is different if your name is Mercedes-Benz or Lego, when your name represents thousands of dealers all around the world. The issue is that the Internet has introduced potentialities that business has not fully perceived – possibilities that have only partially been acted upon. The cultural, fiscal and infrastructural deviations and revolutions these potentialities demand have often obscured their existence from the view of corporate planners. The potential retail/e-tail relationship demands the total redefinition of the role of distribution channels and the re-education of those who operate them. For example, most cars today are still sold through traditional dealerships. E-tail advocates might claim that the car yard is going to disappear. But can this really be the case? Sure, CarPoint and Autobytel are successful because their customers already know what they want to buy. And how do they know what they’re after? They know what they’re buying because they’ve test-driven the car – at the dealership! So the dealer lost the sale. Yet the deal would never have been made between the customer and the e-tailer without the […]

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