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Old 09-06-2010, 01:35 AM   #21
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I don't see how being an informed consumer can protect against such manipulation. Being informed is at the conscious level, and neuromarketing bypasses that and goes straight for the subconscious.
Heck, whenever I pass a Taco Bell or watch a football game I want a beer. But I'm in training for a taekwondo test and I'm pretty busy with other projects, so I don't want to drink or have to cope with the results.

Every time I pass an attractive woman I wonder if she'd have sex with me. But I'm usually able to keep my mouth shut, especially when I'm with my spouse. No coping issues there, either.

Every time I pass a piece of dark chocolate I want to eat it. So I do. I haven't quite figured out the proper response to that situation yet, and Hershey's "Special Dark" can have me anytime they want me.

There's a difference between being triggered and being able to consciously control the response to the triggers. If nothing else you'll suddenly find yourself wondering why you want a Coke so badly, and then you'll realize that you've been "neuromanced"...

Here's another way to think about it: if Lindstrom is so good at what he's writing about, then why is he writing a book about it instead of making gazillions of dollars selling their gear to the Coca-Cola company? Why give away the secrets when he could be making even more money keeping it among the MegaCorps?!?

I guess that leads to another question: Did you feel compelled to buy his book? And if not, then how effective are his techniques?
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Old 09-06-2010, 03:23 AM   #22
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Heck, whenever I pass a Taco Bell or watch a football game I want a beer. But I'm in training for a taekwondo test and I'm pretty busy with other projects, so I don't want to drink or have to cope with the results.

Every time I pass an attractive woman I wonder if she'd have sex with me. But I'm usually able to keep my mouth shut, especially when I'm with my spouse. No coping issues there, either.

Every time I pass a piece of dark chocolate I want to eat it. So I do. I haven't quite figured out the proper response to that situation yet, and Hershey's "Special Dark" can have me anytime they want me.
All these things are occurring at the conscious level. You are aware there is a decision to be made, and you decide. That's not what I'm worried about at all. I guess I'm just not able to express why this concerns me so much. If I could, I don't think it would be getting the (noticeable lack of) reaction it is.
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There's a difference between being triggered and being able to consciously control the response to the triggers. If nothing else you'll suddenly find yourself wondering why you want a Coke so badly, and then you'll realize that you've been "neuromanced"...
If that's all that happens, fine, but ISTM it is unlikely to stop there. As describe, it sounds to me as if one's conscious decision making could be circumvented by advertisers using these techniques, pulling the strings and working the levers of your subconscious without your knowledge or consent. I feel violated just thinking about it.
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Here's another way to think about it: if Lindstrom is so good at what he's writing about, then why is he writing a book about it instead of making gazillions of dollars selling their gear to the Coca-Cola company? Why give away the secrets when he could be making even more money keeping it among the MegaCorps?!?
He's not writing a book instead of putting this expertise to work for MegaCorps, he's writing a book (not his first, either) in addition to doing that. What a silly question anyway! Who would publish a book that was written by an unknown, or someone who had conspicuously failed at the subject matter? If you want a book on investing, whose name will you look for on the cover, mine or John Bogle's?

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I guess that leads to another question: Did you feel compelled to buy his book? And if not, then how effective are his techniques?
I didn't buy it, it's a library book. But I did decide to read it rather than leave it on the shelf, so I guess it worked, didn't it?
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Old 09-06-2010, 04:37 AM   #23
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That's not what I'm worried about at all. I guess I'm just not able to express why this concerns me so much. If I could, I don't think it would be getting the (noticeable lack of) reaction it is.
Unless you have some past history of addiction (gambling, etc) or para-addiction (excess shopping, etc) I wouldn't worry about it. The people in marketing are always looking for ways to optimise the effectiveness of their message, but ultimately you are the one deciding whether or not to put your hand in your pocket. These days I let most of this advertising BS just wash over me.

Here's a nice story from the UK, which may or may not be true, but I soooo want it to be. A supermarket chain amassed a load of data from their loyalty card programme and got some consultants in to look at it. The first thing they noticed was that sales of the quad packs of Pampers (about the size of a small suitcase) doubled late on Friday afternoons. They worked out that this was because (sexist assumptions alert) Mom was calling Dad to say "I can't fit the quad pack into the car with the baby and the stroller, can you pick one up on your way home". So the consultants told the supermarket to move the quad packs of Pampers next to the cases of (non-discounted premium) beer on Friday afternoons. The story is that the increased sales of beer to Dads who picked up a case in their left hand to balance the huge pack of Pampers in their right hand, paid for the consultants outright, and everything else which they improved went straight to the bottom line.
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:03 AM   #24
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I don't know how to escape the influence of this, other than to avoid, as much as I can, exposing myself to any kind of mass commercial media. Has anyone else read the book, and did it strike you the same way?
I've read similar books. Taking a class in marketing works wonders in immunizing oneself from marketeers. I found Predictably Irrational Amazon.com: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (9780061353239): Dan Ariely: Books to be an interesting read. (From the library, of course.)

And having the experience to recognize that my impulsive decisions rarely tend to be wise decisions.
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Old 09-06-2010, 07:47 AM   #25
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I think advertisers are already using everything they can manage to make us want stuff that has little or no value to us. This is not anything new. Sure, I suppose they may be trying something more scientific, but it all boils down to making people feel that their lives will be better if they have X object or service.

I saw an example of using focus groups the way this thread describes once. It was for a door company. The company ran a study to figure out if people were more likely to believe that a door was a valid security barrier based on whether the ad picture of it showed it closed, all the way open, or partially open. When they started using pictures of partially opened doors, their sales went up. The doors themselves didn't change any, but the presentation made them sell better.

On the other hand... if I didn't need a door, I wouldn't really care. If I did need a high security door, I'd compare the statistics for how long they blocked fire, how long the locks took to be circumvented, which ones had better safety ratings, etc. I wouldn't look at pictures to see which one was prettier.

I acknowledge, though, that I am an atypical shopper. I shop and buy based on performance stats and detailed consumer reviews. I can't think of a single time when I've seen something on TV and gone out to buy it as a result. I am much more likely to want something based on seeing a friend use it or borrowing one for a while than based on seeing one in an advertisement.

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Old 09-06-2010, 08:32 AM   #26
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Teach basic logic classes in elementary schools.
When people actually have a better understanding of faulty arguments, they can will be much less likely to fall prey to it.
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:48 AM   #27
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This thread reminds me of our Chicago visit. My daughter always wants Cinnabons when going through airports. You know that smell that always grabs you as you walk through... Her nose was being marketed again on this trip. She bought one and said that it didn't taste as good this time - the smell was much better and less fattening. I hope she remembers that for her next trip.
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:51 AM   #28
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I get the impression that Kdyounge isn't nearly as worried about her own ability to resist neuromarketing, as she is about its effects on the population at large, especially when it comes to marketing candidates or policies.

I contend that battle was lost quite a while ago (but will not bolster my argument, as I don't want to be censured for going political in the forum).

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Unless you have some past history of addiction (gambling, etc) or para-addiction (excess shopping, etc) I wouldn't worry about it. ...ultimately you are the one deciding whether or not to put your hand in your pocket. These days I let most of this advertising BS just wash over me.

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Old 09-06-2010, 11:37 AM   #29
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He's not writing a book instead of putting this expertise to work for MegaCorps, he's writing a book (not his first, either) in addition to doing that. What a silly question anyway! Who would publish a book that was written by an unknown, or someone who had conspicuously failed at the subject matter? If you want a book on investing, whose name will you look for on the cover, mine or John Bogle's?
I've learned a bit about writing books and finding publishers who'll take on unknown authors.

If his techniques are so good then he'd make far more money spending his time on applying them for big companies than he would on selling books to libraries for puny royalties. These books don't just spit themselves out, and if he's writing about it instead of doing it then there might be a reason for the suboptimal (and perhaps uneconomic) use of his time-- and the reason might be that the buy-ology tactics don't work as effectively as he's hoped.

I find that to be a bit ironic for a marketer.
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Old 09-06-2010, 11:42 AM   #30
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:03 PM   #31
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My guess is that worries about "neuromarketing" are way overblown. Remember when everyone was talking about subliminal messages in advertising? Well it turns out that the whole idea had very little evidence to back it up.

subliminal - The Skeptic's Dictionary - Skepdic.com

I worry more about messages that are not subliminal. That are incessant and in your face. The messages that you need a nice house, a nice car, a certain type of job, etc. to be happy.
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Old 09-06-2010, 02:05 PM   #32
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I get the impression that Kdyounge isn't nearly as worried about her own ability to resist neuromarketing, as she is about its effects on the population at large, especially when it comes to marketing candidates or policies.

I contend that battle was lost quite a while ago (but will not bolster my argument, as I don't want to be censured for going political in the forum).

Amethyst
You're right. I already use most of the defenses suggested by T-Al, but how many other people do? The national average TV-watching time, movie theater attendance, and newspaper & magazine readership is what it is, and someone must be doing almost double their share in each of those categories to make up for my very low consumption rates in those areas. We can already see the effects of today's relatively inefficient marketing methods in beliefs about investing, in consumerism, in political polarization, in general fear-mongering...what happens when the people pulling the strings get really good at it? I fear that it will be like the first use of antibiotics on a never-before-exposed bacterial population—near 100% effectiveness.
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Old 09-06-2010, 02:16 PM   #33
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I fear that it will be like the first use of antibiotics on a never-before-exposed bacterial population—near 100% effectiveness.

This is why some of us hang out in places like this - knowledge increases our ability to become mutant cells.
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Old 09-06-2010, 02:28 PM   #34
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You're right. I already use most of the defenses suggested by T-Al, but how many other people do?
Assuming that you're right, and also that this sort of stuff is real and works, then why do we care?

In general, people who LBYM benefit from cheaper, better consumer products. We like to think that we do this in a smart way - spending less on the same or better versions of stuff we would have bought anyway - but we all benefit from, say, better healthcare, and that means machinery, and that means semiconductors, and that means an industry that doesn't just build devices with medical applications.

If you worry about high gas prices, and especially if you have to drive a lot, it makes sense to have Shell and Exxon in your portfolio. Similarly, if you think that people are going to be unable to resist the siren call of Coca-Cola or KFC in future, that's where you should put your money. Whether or not this stuff works, there isn't much point in just worrying about it. At least try and profit while you worry.
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Old 09-06-2010, 03:40 PM   #35
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Assuming that you're right, and also that this sort of stuff is real and works, then why do we care? (snip)
Basically four reasons:
  1. If this stuff is real, and works, it will do absolutely nothing to increase human well-being, and may even decrease it. Once basic needs are met, more money and stuff is not correlated with more happiness. But producers and advertisers won't make any money promoting contentedness, they only make money if they sell a product or service. The basic message of advertising—"buy this and you will be thin, rich, happy, sexy, popular...."—is false. The products can't deliver what they promise. If this stuff is real, and works, more people will devote more of their lives to chasing a will-o-the-wisp.
  2. If this stuff is real, and works, it will increase usage of products that have adverse effects on some users, and I doubt that the cost resulting from that damage will be borne by the people who caused the increased use and profit from it. I would instead expect a policy of "privatize profit, socialize cost" to prevail. If the number of smokers, alcoholics, problem gamblers, or even morbidly obese people (see Cinnabons, above) increases as a result of the increased effectiveness of techniques to sell these products, I do not think it will be the tobacco companies, distilleries, casino operators or purveyors of empty calories who bear the resulting costs, but the affected individuals themselves and their families, their victims (e.g. of drunk drivers), and to some extent the taxpayers, who pay.
  3. If this stuff is real, and works, I don't see any way to exclude the possibility that an evil megalomaniac could make use of these techniques to seize power. This outcome is perhaps unlikely, but the consequences would be horrific. Maybe more likely would be imposition of a government "of the companies, by the companies and for the companies", through effectively selling such a program, and candidates that support it, to the general public. I think corporations already have too much influence on policy. If it's real, and works, neuromarketing would give them much more.
  4. And lastly, if this stuff is real and works, I think it's an affront to human dignity. I am revolted by the idea that people's unconscious minds will be manipulated by soulless corporations for their own profit, regardless of whether the effects on the people these techniques are directed at are beneficial or detrimental.
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Whether or not this stuff works, there isn't much point in just worrying about it. At least try and profit while you worry.
You're right, worrying won't stop it. And right now, I'm probably profiting from it too, to some extent, because some of my retirement savings are in the stock market via mutual funds, which probably include companies that use, or will use, these methods. Maybe it's time for me to go read Slow Money again, and see if there is a fund yet based on those principles, with a view toward ceasing to profit from it when I retire and can roll over my 457 account to a custodian with wider investment options.
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Old 09-06-2010, 04:11 PM   #36
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Maybe the antidote for people to all this marketing is watching the show hoarders?

I buy a lot of things on Amazon - even grocery items. By the time I factor in mileage and my time it is often the cheapest way to purchase stuff. I don't really get shopping as a hobby.
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Old 09-06-2010, 05:01 PM   #37
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[*]And lastly, if this stuff is real and works, I think it's an affront to human dignity. I am revolted by the idea that people's unconscious minds will be manipulated by soulless corporations for their own profit, regardless of whether the effects on the people these techniques are directed at are beneficial or detrimental.
You don't think that that's a pretty close approximation to how marketing works today?
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Old 09-06-2010, 05:10 PM   #38
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And lastly, if this stuff is real and works, I think it's an affront to human dignity. I am revolted by the idea that people's unconscious minds will be manipulated by soulless corporations for their own profit, regardless of whether the effects on the people these techniques are directed at are beneficial or detrimental.
You don't think that that's a pretty close approximation to how marketing works today?
I think that's what marketing tries to do today. My concern is that neuromarketing will make it possible to do it much more effectively, and with less potential for the individual to counteract it than is true nowadays.
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Old 09-06-2010, 05:40 PM   #39
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Well, the present situation seems to be that a very large number of people can be easily persuaded to borrow more than they can afford to buy all kinds of consumer cr*p, until the banks pull the plug. What do you imagine will be worse than that in a world where all that's changed is that some of the marketing techniques have been tested slightly better than today?

Again, the neuro-stuff is used to calibrate marketing messages. It doesn't materially affect what those messages do. It's not like some bad sci-fi show where they make a sound at 453.766 Hz and it makes everyone writhe on the ground and declare allegiance to our new insect overlords.
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Old 09-07-2010, 08:55 AM   #40
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It's not like some bad sci-fi show where they make a sound at 453.766 Hz and it makes everyone writhe on the ground and declare allegiance to our new insect overlords.
Speak for yourself. Bzzzzzzzzzz...
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