Absolut Final Post

So this is my final blog post everyone, it will certainly feel odd not writing a post every week from now on! I thought I’d finish my blogging with a post that I’m sure most people (especially students) can relate with…

Alcohol!

I was triggered to write this post by a couple of things. Firstly, I was looking down the alcohol aisle in my local super market just the other day, thinking to myself of what drink to get for my flat Christmas dinner, and I saw ‘Absolut Raspberri’, on offer for £15 instead of £19. Secondly, the design of the Absolut bottle reminded me of the unique advertising posters and print ads that the company has produced over the years.

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We all recognise the adverts, the iconic slogans and signature bottle shape.

Above is an example of some of the advertisements which Absolut have produced. There is in fact an entire website dedicated to Absolut adverts, www.absolutad.com if you are interested! I feel like it would be interesting to discuss the affect these adverts have had on the image of Absolut and the psychology behind the adverts. Personally I feel that Absolut adverts are witty, effective and sometimes glamorize their product. These factors obviously have an effect on the prospective buyers of the product as well as the impression the brand presents itself with.

Absolut is the third largest spirit brand in the world after Smirnoff and Bacardi. It is thought that Absolut’s advertising fame is due to their distinctive and recognizable designs. The adverts are designed by the advertising agency TBWA worldwide.

All the Absolut adverts run with the slogan,

‘Absolut _______’

For example the first Absolut ad was ‘Absolut Perfection’, and this was the start of the longest running advertising campaign, with more than 1500 adverts to date.

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 Example of the first Absolut advert

The adverts cleverly use repetition, as all the adverts are of the same style. Campbell & Keller (2003) suggested that if an individual is familiar with a brand it would influence the effectiveness that the use of repetition has. In brief, if a product is more familiar to a person, the repetition through advertising would not ‘wear out’ on them.

It could be argued that in the case of Absolut, as it is a household alcohol brand name it could be thought as already familiar with its customer base. Moreover, it could be thought that the sort of person who buys Absolut vodka is one that is already well acquainted with vodka brands. This is because Absolut markets itself as a ‘high’ quality drink, and is priced to reflect its quality.

Like with all products, brand familiarity is important for creating loyal customers. As stated in my blog two weeks ago, a familiar brand increases customer confidence in buying a product. Making memorable advertising even more important.

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A selection of the Absolut flavours which are currently available 

Back to Absolut advertising specifically. Kenyon & Hutchinson (2007) carried out a research case study on the visual and verbal images used in advertising for Absolut. Their research clarified that Absolut has a clear target audience, and that their adverts are directed clearly at one audience.

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‘Absolut Marilyn’ advert, almost glamorises the brand and the drink

Naturally exposure to advertisements will often increase sales, but it terms of age-restricted products such as alcohol, there has to be some boundaries. There are of course negative connotations with having such clever and attractive advertisement campaigns. There are many research studies that suggest that alcohol advertising can increase drinking and the associated issues of drinking with younger people. Snyder et al (2006) tested whether the exposure of alcohol adverts would increase the amount of alcohol consumption by youths. It was found that in individuals aged 15-26 who saw more adverts for alcohol would on average drink more alcohol than those who had not been exposed to the adverts. Moreover, when the results were examined of participants exclusively under the legal drinking age, it was still found that the advert exposure correlated with drinking. Naturally underage drinking should be handle as a health concern as well as the anti-social effects which often run along side excess drinking.

What I think is particularly clever and iconic about Absolut ads, is that they create an element of exclusivity to their products, with their one of a kind bottles and artist collaborations. In fact their adverts have become so popular that they are almost collectors items in themselves!

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Example of ‘Absolut Unique’ bottles which ran in a campaign earlier this year, here are two of the bottles I purchased, which are apparently ‘one of a kind’.

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Absolut Hirst’ an example of an Absolut campaign using famous artists.

Hope you all enjoyed my final post, t has been a good three months of blogging! Thanks to all who have read and enjoyed my blog!!

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Merry Christmas! 

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Grab This!

This weeks blog is inspired by a post I found on my current favourite procrastination website, no not Facebook (for once), this time it’s the turn of Buzzfeed

I currently have a habit of scrolling through the endless lists on Buzzfeed when I am trying to sleep. Just last week I came across one list based article that really grabbed my consumer psychology focused eyes.

“31 mind-blowing examples of clever packaging”

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How is Buzzfeed related to consumer psychology I hear you cry? Well simple in terms of this article, what makes these packages ‘mind-blowing’ is how grabble and how usable they are to us as consumers.

They have good affordances.

Affordance= The qualities of an object that allows an action to be performed

Example….teapots!

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Essentially, and item with good affordances if one which you could look at and know how to hold and then potentially how to use it.

One experiment tested the affordances of stairs. Warren (1984) cleverly changed the height of stairs (i.e. each individual stair block) to judge whether a change in stair height would change individuals reaction and performance towards using the staircase. Both shorter and taller men were tested during the study. It was found that both groups thought that the stairs were unclimbable if the height of each stair block was out of proportion to their own leg length. This research can suggest that is something does not seem usable, we will be less inclined to then use it.

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M.C. Escher ‘House of Stairs’ ….I’d love to see someone attempt to climb this stair maze!

The theory of affordance was first coined by Gibson (1977). Affordances can be applied to a number of elements in psychology, not just consumerism. Moreover, affordances are applicable to many other fields, such as engineering.

Another way to test the effectiveness of an affordance is through the use of eye gaze. Eye gaze, measures exactly where a participant is looking (imagine your pupils drawing a line on everything you look at). Hayes et al (2008) found that in an experimental condition, when individuals observed an actor moving an object, and they could see the actors eye gaze, ratings of the moved object were higher. Reports of rating the objects were higher if the individuals could see the direction of the eye gaze towards the object in question. This is important as it suggests that the moving of an object is more understandable if you can observe someone else doing it. Therefore, an affordance may be more effective is you have related to someone else moving/holding the object in question.

Back to the Buzzfeed article. What really struck me was not simply the innovative ideas which were presented on my laptop screen, but the usability of the objects and the clever advertising ploys

All pictures below are taken from the Buzzfeed article

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How clever is this Nike shoe box, not only does it clearly show it is for their ‘air’ range of shoes it is also a portable advert for the ‘air’ shoe range.

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This fitness bag also doubles as a skipping rope advert. A simple but nonetheless very thought out advert!

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A reinvention of the typical ‘Staples’ bag. This bag serves as not only a bag but a clever on subject ‘walking’ advert also. 

Practicalities and advertising! Clever right! Not only do the above examples offer ingenious advertising tactics, they also work on human perception. Thus meaning we can then categorize the objects for future decision making. 

I just can’t choose!

So many pretty colours, sizes, styles, fits, shapes, ahh where to start! The idea of too much choice is one that has been researched thoroughly within literature.

Choice is viewed as freedom, yes, but what about when there is too much choice? What happens when we are bombarded with so many options and we can’t make a decision- this is where the ‘Paradox of Choice’ comes into play (Schwartz, 2000).

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 It has been suggested that we cannot focus on what we really want if we are presented with too much choice. A personal example of which would be online shopping for clothes (particularly one particularly well known online only shop, lets call it ‘basos’ for names sake). I find that even when I have narrowed down the search by my preferred size and colour, I still end up struggling to find the one sort of item I am looking for. On the other hand, one element which I find does hep me with my choice dilemmas is trusty old familiar brands.

Laroche, Kim and Zhou (1996) carried out research that did in fact suggest that a customers confidence towards a familiar brand will effect their intention towards buying. This certainly reflects my habit of going back to the same recognisable brands each time I need a new jumper or pair of jeans!

Further research has delved into the effects of brand names and purchase intentions. It has been thought that if a consumer has prior positive perceptions of a brand they will be positively influenced to purchase (Grewal, Krishman, Baker & Borin, 1998).

But back to choice directly, what is this ‘choice paradox’? Well one definition is that it can be thought to be the anxiety surrounding consumers when there is simply too much choice.

Too much choice can then be defined as the phenomena named, ‘choice paralysis’. This paralysis is essentially an extension of the paradox of choice.

Paralysed by too many shampoo choices!

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So maybe this too much choice situation is having an effect on me when I shop online, perhaps I have choice paralysis! Even when trying to buy something basic such as a striped top, it always turns out to be a small battle (with myself and basos).

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Just for a reference I’ve been after a striped top like this for ages, can I find one? No I cant!

An example of too much choice can be found in a study involving my favourite sweet treat, chocolate! Iyengar & Leeper (2000) found that if individuals are offered either 6 or 30 different choices of chocolate, they are more likely to be satisfied with their choice if they have chosen from the 6 chocolate varieties. It should be pointed out that this study was carried out in both field and lab environments, so it has high validity. Moreover, this study was also conducted using jam as the choice variable and similar effects were found.

Furthering the research from Iyengar & Leeper, a study by Schwartz et al (2002) investigated whether or not people could feel worse if they were faced with more choices. The study involved four different elements of maximisation and satisfaction in relation to choice. Results suggested that when choices were maximised there were more instances of regret and need for social comparison (i.e. overall lack of satisfaction). This study certainly serves as an interesting nod to current matter of too much choice.

 

 

The first 5 minutes of the talk above make a clever point, no choice is a lack of freedom, but is too much choice also restrictive. The example of mobile phones is one which I find a clever one. Even my phone can do almost anything under the sun, with all the obscure and wonderful ‘apps’ that are available to it. But as Schwartz highlights, there surely must be too much choice when you have to ask in store for a phone that does nothing (essentially just for calls). Perhaps our innate need for so much choice and variety has caused an influx in too many options and too many fancy extras and gadgets that are simply not needed.

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It has made me think that there must be a ‘magic number’ of sorts when it comes to choice, an optimum selections we can choose from without suffering feelings of self-doubt and choice paralysis. 

Facebook, your own brand within a brand

Several factors have influenced mby blog topic for this week, to name a few:

  • Procrastination (standard student behaviour!)
  • The pub quiz
  • Influential brands

You may have guessed what my topic is with the first point (which I naturally engaged in before writing this post) this week’s blog is on Facebook, and how it affects us as consumers and recent news stories related to the social networking giant. 

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As many of you may know Facebook uses adverts, and a fair few of them at that. What some of you may not know is that the adverts Facebook uses are tailored to you personally. If you view Facebook’s advertising policy, it states that the best ad’s they use are ones that are based on “interactions and affiliate with the brands, artists, and businesses they care about”. Time magazine earlier this year stated that Facebook are trying even harder to show members adverts which are relevant to them, and to prevent the ‘spammy’ style adverts which often pop up on the sidebar.

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Pietro & Pantano (2012) investigated the affect Facebook has on individuals purchasing decisions through quantitative analysis. The results suggested that if an individual enjoyed their time on the social networking site, they would be then more likely to make a purchase decision.

Perhaps that’s why Facebook is always asking us to ‘like’ things! 

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This leads nicely to why Facebook is related to the pub quiz I took part in last week. One of the questions was, “For how much, in dollars or pounds, did Facebook try and offer to buy the mobile app ‘Snapchat’”?

Answer: $3 Billion! (estimated)

Snapchat, the mobile phone application that enables individuals to send photos of themselves or of anything to contacts on their phone list, the novelty being that the viewer of the image could only see the photo for a few seconds.   

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Above: Snapchat Logo

According to Forbes Facebook has recently been struggling with teenage users of the social networking site, moving their focus to mobile phone based apps such as Snapchat and Instagram. 

It could be said, that Facebook’s popularity is now varied, especially due to the variety of social media and social networking sites/apps which are available to individuals these days.

As Facebook is available to most people worldwide who have access to Internet, it has been the subject to some recent popular Psychology. Research by Anderson, Fagan, Woodnutt & Chamorro-Premuzic (2012) suggested that Facebook is one of the most popular websites in the world, causing many psychological themes to be raised such as corporate Facebook use (adverts and businesses) and personal use. 

A frequent topic in research around Facebook is based around the ideas of how individuals present themselves on line. McAndrew & Jeong (2012) investigated a sample of Facebook users (1,026). They found that more women used Facebook, and that females would be more likely to change their profile picture to ‘impress’ others. They suggested that their study could be linked back to a evolutionary prospective (perhaps this is with the females try to impress!?) and that the research could add to the psychology of gossip.

Personally, I think the use of the work “gossip” nicely sums up Facebook, a website which not only advertises and holds one of the largest social media groups, but on a more basic level is a gossip forum for ‘friends’ and the like.

Facebook can be viewed as your own online presence, like the online version of yourself if you may. For example, you can plug in all of your personal details from location to relationship status, you can ‘like’ bands, television shows, films, books, sports and see what other ‘likes’ you share with your friends. Essentially you can make you own ideal you on Facebook, you only have to share what you want people to know about you. (You don’t often see items on your newsfeed such as, “Joe Blogg likes ‘having bad morning breath’”.)

Hollenbeck & Kaikati (2012) looked into the idea of ‘ideal self’ in relation to Facebook. They suggested that other research has alluded to the idea that individuals do present their actual self within their Facebook likes (such as brands etc). But, they then found that presentations of the actual self seldom existed within the social networking site, moreover, that individual’s ideal and actual selves were clashing.

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 Facebook is considered one of the biggest brands that have changed the world.

Adweek rated Facebook as number two in the top ten brands that have changed the world. Interestingly they pointed out, that CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in fact a psychology student not computer science! Adweek also noted that Facebook has “redefined friendship” with 48% of adults checking Facebook first thing every morning!

Interbrand, a website focusing on brand value rated Facebook as number 52 in the world top 100. The website also stated that Facebook was the biggest riser in this years Best Global Brands report. With Facebook bringing Instagram and the usage of hashtags into their social media arms.

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#Facebook #Instagram #Hashtag 

On a concluding note, let me ask you this, what is your personal Facebook brand? 

Is it Christmas already?

I’m certainly no Scrooge, but each year it seems to be that I’m being pushed into feeling festive earlier and earlier than I would necessarily want. And I mean push, no subtle nudges here!

It was only four days ago I took a trip to my local coffee chain’s store. Walked in, and I was bombarded by what could only be described as a coffee shop in disguise as Christmas itself.  Firstly, all the Christmas decorations were up, considering it was only the 9th of November, and we had only just come out of Guy Faulks. All the staff were dressed in Christmassy outfits, like coffee versions of Santa’s elves! And finally, the take away coffee was being served in various Christmas themed cups! Suddenly I felt festive, I felt urged to buy a seasonal coffee drink, despite my instincts telling me “No, its not time for Christmas yet!”

N.B. I did notice on Twitter the other day that said coffee chain remarked that they had specific festive cups, as their usual cups were red all year…a small dig at another leading coffee company.

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Example of said coffee cups

It seems to me that we leave one holiday season and are pushed right forward into the next!

This past week appears to have left November and fallen straight into the Christmas season, with no transition period. This week has featured the launch of some of the UK’s major retailers Christmas Advertisement offerings. Nonetheless, I do love a good Christmas advert, just perhaps in the latter half of November.

Marks and Spencer (A.k.a. Magic and Sparkle) released their spectacular almost mini movie of an ad earlier in the week. Already the advert has racked up over 560,000 views on YouTube!!

The advert cleverly combines a selection of classic fairy tales and enchanted stories. Featuring nods at Alice in Wonderland, Red Riding Hood, Arabian Nights and The Wizard of Oz. The advert keeps Christmas spirit in mind throughout, but creates magic (and sparkle!) to younger viewers and pulls at nostalgia for adult viewers.

Marchegiani and Phau (2010) highlighted that there are two different types of nostalgia, historical and personal. Moreover, that nostalgia shouldn’t just be considered a “unified” concept.

  • Historical –> Idealisation of Self
  • Personal –> Empathy

(As defined by Stern, 2013)

The Marks and Spencer ad could fall into primarily the personal nostalgia as it focuses on individual’s emotions towards to the classic fairy tales. As adults will relate them to their childhood and the good old days when they were carefree. Whereas, children (particularly younger children) will relate the advert to the fairylike stories that they are being told by their parents and peers.

Phau (2008) suggested that the level of personal nostalgia on an advertising campaign can vary depending on the intensity of the nostalgia. In terms of the M&S ad campaign the nostalgia effect will depend on the individual.

Marks and Spencer premiered the advert through social media on the 4th November. Its first televisual showing was during the ad break in Coronation Street on the following Wednesday (6th).

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 Friendly festive kitten -whats not to like?!

The next big retailer to gift us with their Christmas advertisement this week was… Can you guess…? John Lewis!

Like last year, John Lewis has yet again taken us all on an emotional rollercoaster, with its non-traditional festive advert. The commercial doesn’t feature any of the actual products that the store sells. Instead it focuses on the emotions of the viewer.

The ad dubbed as “The two minutes that launch Christmas” (The Telegraph) costing the company one million out of it seven million pound Christmas campaign.

This advert tells the story of a bear and a hare (who both now have their own twitter accounts! @johnlewisbear and @johnlewishare) that never get to spend the festive season together as the bear was always hibernating. But this year the ever so thoughtful hare bought the lonely bear an alarm clock, so he had a gift and woke up in time for the woodland creature Christmas.

Hollis (2010) suggested that in fact emotions are triggered in all the adverts that we view. Moreover, the response we have to an emotional advert reflects life-based experiences an individual has previously experienced. Mizerski and White (1986) proposed that emotions in adverts are beyond the scope of regular traditional adverts.

This advert again was first available through social media, but had its official television release during X-Factor on the 9th November.

In my opinion, I like the advert, but I do find the concept of feeling festive and emotional at the same rather odd. At the same time, I still feel like I will enjoy watching the advert in the breaks during the Christmas period.

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Does anyone else find themselves singing song when they read ‘Holidays are coming’?

This week has also premiered the Christmas ad’s for Tesco, Carphone Warehouse, and of course the good old classic Coca-Cola advert. Which of course now means that it must be Christmas (!?) as Coke has defined it so… Holidays are coming after all!

Individual Differences- Customise Me!

So it seems to me that a lot of people these days seem to dress the same, buy the same and want the same items as one and other. However, at the same time we all crave that need to be ‘unique’ or ‘individual’…. Cue, customisation! Allowing consumers to have their favourite products personalised exclusively for their needs. Many big name companies have jumped on this customisation bandwagon, to keep up with the current consumers needs.

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Above is an example of customisable Converse trainers, of my own unique (very pink) design!

It has been suggested that being able to customise a product before you buy it is the ‘future of business’ (Titlow, 2011). Consumers can go online, customise an item or product before they buy- et voila, your own unique product!!

This individualisation concept can be referred to as mass customisation. Franke & Schreier (2007) suggested that one of the main utilities of mass customisation is the perceived uniqueness of the product, and that’s what makes the customisable element a success. Thus, websites, which offer a customisation service, should be constructed in such a way that makes them easy to use.

Further research proposes that by creating your own unique products, you increase emotional bonding to a product. Mugge, Schoormans & Schifferstein (2009) research suggests that the effort involved in personalising a product has a direct effect on the emotional bond with said product. From this, perhaps it could be thought that a customisation service for business is beneficial for creating emotional ties and attachment to products.

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A prime example of a customisation success is provided in the form of chocolatey goodness given to us in M&M form. ‘My M&M’s’ is a freestanding customisation website to create your very own M&M’s. The website allows you to choose from a vast selection of colours, messages and images and the treats final packaging. Allowing a consumer to really feel like every element of the process is their decision, for their own special M&M’s. The service has been available since 2004, giving bite-sized unique treats to anyone who is willing to pay their prices. Pingjun (2002)  noted that customers would be willing to pay more for customisation if they were confident in their choices.

With all this in mind of course I had to go ahead a design my own M&M’s! All in the name of research of course!

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There they are, my very own (including my face- cringe) M&M’s! 

To my amazement, I could not only choose the colour and message but I could also put my face on the chocolates! (A little bit of madness, but nonetheless I put my face on a M&M!). The process itself was easy to understand, and it was quite fun seeing the step by step transformation of a plain sweetie turn into something that is personal to yourself.
I have to say the price for this novelty was interesting to say the least. The cheapest I could make my sweets for (unless I am mistaken) was $41.97! Furthermore, I would have to order a minimum of 3 bags of my personal M&M’s at 7oz per bag, wowee! 

 

All in all, I like the idea of customisation. I enjoyed the process on both the Converse website and the M&M website. However, for me, I’m not sure the price is worth the product. But as a gift or a treat I can see the appeal. 

Supermarket Music Horrors (Halloween Special!)

This week my blog is inspired by a trip to my local supermarket. I do usually enjoy my trips to said supermarket, probably because I associate them with procrastination and buying chocolate that I could probably do without! (Saying that, as I write this I am polishing off a mug of hot chocolate-oops!) So back to the supermarket, I walked into the foyer and to my annoyance I was confronted with the most hideous sounding (one can only presume Halloween themed) music. There was also a Halloween display in the doorway. This did not frustrate me as much as the music, however, Paco Underhill (1999) suggested in his book ‘Why we buy’, that anything a customer passes in a doorway or foyer of a shop will be lost on them, as they will just be in a hurry to get into the store. He dubbed this phenomenon as the ‘decompression zone’. With this in mind, it made me think that firstly this supermarket had not read Paco’s book and secondly the Halloween display was not only irritating, but also completely ineffective.

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 My supermarket example made me think further about the music in shops, and if it is deliberate of just to keep the staff entertained.

Research has alluded that the effect music has on an individual depends on how much they chose to engage with it (North, Hargreaves & Hargreaves, 2004).  In my case I had no choice but to engage with the Halloween music in the supermarket entrance, as it was loud and unavoidable.

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The above photo illustrates how I felt entering the supermarket! 

It is apparent that music is often used within stores to create arousal. Smith and Curnrow (1966) tested the so called ‘arousal hypothesis’ within supermarkets where loud music was being played. It was found that when loud music was played, people spent significantly less time in the supermarket. Although perhaps a bit dated, those results are certainly consistent with my recent supermarket experience. Music has also been used to affect the behaviour of supermarket shoppers. Milliman (1982) suggested that in store music should not only make the staff feel happier about the place they work in, but also give the supermarket atmosphere. Moreover, one study suggested that playing music purely to satisfy a customers preferences may not be the best approach to increase sales and footfall, but by playing a variety of different music to suit all age ranged would prove to be more fruitful (Yalch & Spangenberg, 1984).

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Arguably music in shops does not always prove to annoy me, in certain shops particularly clothes shops that are tailored to my age group, the music actually appeals to myself. I can sense myself actively listening to the music in the background and enjoying the tunes whilst I pick out my new wardrobe. 

As for the supermarket, I still find myself shopping there, despite the musical annoyance. The music is still very noticeable to me, but I find myself cringing at it more now rather than feeling like I want to leave the shop!

Happy Halloween Guys!