BrandingCase Study

Funny or Creepy?… Taking Consumer Studies to a Whole New Level

As a marketer, I fell in love with the idea of combining psychology and marketing to reach consumers on a deeper level; to satisfy a feeling the consumer has, not only his direct needs. While for most people psychology is boring, adding marketing to the mix made it…well creepy…but in a funny way.

Here are 2 studies that will definitely leave a mark!

Women & Cockroaches!

One of the best consumer behavior studies I have ever read – both as a woman and as a marketer – is the Combat roach killer study.

The study began after a US company called Combat had trouble selling its cockroach killer to its ideal target market. The product used a small plastic tray device to get rid of cockroaches in a cleaner and more humane way than the traditional toxic spray cans; yet it was not selling well to an obvious target market of women living in the poor areas of the South, who maintained their preference for the sprays.

A research company was brought in to study the consumer profiles of the chosen target market “low income southern women”, where a sample group of these women were asked to draw the roaches & say what they felt about them.

The researchers were intrigued to discover that all the insects were drawn as males! Not only that but the stories that accompanied the drawings were clearly about the men in these women’s lives; thus, killing the roaches with a bug spray and watching them squirm & die allowed the women to express their hostility toward their men (who often mistreated them), not only that but the research concluded that the spray cans gave the women a feeling of power & control (like that of a gun)…Now no product can beat that!!

Music Can Change Your Mind:

Did you know that if you are a classic Coca Cola drinker, I can get you to switch to Pepsi just like that, or even abandon the whole soft drink market and start drinking milk instead!

Here is how it works, the human mind associates music with feeling, and music with images; therefore, if your favorite music was playing in the background of an advert for milk, even if you hate milk, your feelings towards the brand image and the product (milk) will be positive and this subconsciously shift your choice from coke in general to milk.

The same idea works the other way around, if the music you hate was playing at the background of an advert of a random drink, you will subconsciously dismiss this drink from your choice.

Connecting music and choice was studied from many angles, but the most famous experiment that pioneered the whole idea of music’s effect on choice was the Gorn experiment performed in 1982.

The idea of the experiment is simple, music will be used in an advertisement to make people chose a certain color of pen rather than another.

Music Can Change Your Mind-Think Marketing Magazine
Music Can Change Customer Mind

The subjects in the experiment tended to like one of two pieces of music and dislike the other. The advertisement in which the background music was playing featured the use of either a beige or a light blue pen (both previously evaluated as neutral). The preferred music was then played with the beige pen, while the disliked music was played with the advert of the blue pen; at the end of the study the subjects were invited to take one of the pens away with them, guess which one was chosen? The beige pen of course, not only that but the subjects’ feeling towards the blue pen changed from neutral to negative.

So how do these studies help you with your ‘brand’? Whether you are the CEO of a large multinational, a marketing manager or a business owner, the above studies mean the same thing to your business, your customer is an irrational human being, address the feelings not the face-value.

Nadine Abou El Atta

A storyteller by hobby and an editor by trade. I spent the past decade crafting editorial strategies to streamline newsrooms, develop social presence, enhance brand positions, and most importantly unify the content direction with business needs.