How to Help Consumers “Value Maximise” in Supermarkets (new app idea) and more...

How to Help Consumers “Value Maximise” in Supermarkets (new app idea)


We all want the best quality bang for our buck – it’s what consumer psychologists call “value maximisation“.  Value maximisation is arguably the most important, and most central concept to understanding what guides consumer behaviour (without it, very little consumer behaviour makes any sense at all).  And digital helps consumers value maximise by providing more information and more choice.

So a new iOS/Android app in the Netherlands, spotted by one of Springwise’s trendspotters is allowing value-maximising consumers to value maximise in supermarkets.  The app offers real-time recipe suggestions from supermarket products that are currently on promotion in your local supermarket.  Simple and smart, the Koken met aanbiedingen app tracks promotions across supermarkets, and helps consumers maximise the value on offer from promotions.

Of course there’s more to value maximisation than price (value = benefit/cost), and brands can help consumers value maximise not through a race to the bottom on price, but by adding value to their value proposition (whether functional, psychological, or ‘display value’).  What caught our eye with this app is that it does both – it helps people save money and get more benefit from their purchases.  It plays on both dimensions of the value equation. Smart.

Is this another new case in the ‘attack of the aggregators’ where new digital intermediaries undermine slow-to-get-with-plan retailers (think hotels, travel priceline, by better offering information and choice? (See James’ Briscoe’s (Unique Digital) ‘Billion Dollar Marketing Lesson‘ to see the scary/exciting future we’re headed towards with this digital intermediation (not disintermediation).

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Top Innovations in Content Marketing [Presentation Download]


What do top fashion models – Gisele Bündchen, Candice Swanepoel, along with Naomi Watts and virtual icon Hatsune Miku have to do with content marketing?  Everything. Here’s a short deck for download that explains all What the ?#%& is Content Marketing?, put together for this summer’s Digital Innovation Day by SYZYGY group of digital agencies, covering latest innovations in content marketing…

Key points/examples

  • Although content marketing formats (se of publishing channels as opposed to advertising channels to achieve marketing objectives) include traditional email newsletters, website blogs, viral videos and promotional microsites, there are some exciting innovations emerging in content marketing formats
    • Shoppable E-zines (Net a Porter’s Porter magazine featuring Gisele Bündchen)
    • Shoppable videos (Candice Swanepoel for  Juicy Couture)
    • Self-publishing products (e.g. activity trackers that publish sharable data to personal dashboards – a personal favourite of Naomi Watts)
    • Augmented reality packaging (e.g. scan a product to see published information – reviews, product info etc…) – Domino’s Hatsune Miku
    • Real-time video (e.g. Red Bull ‘Stratos’ stunt)
    • Digital art (e.g. Debenhams department store working with artists)
    • Video explainers (e.g. L’Oreal makeup guides, haul videos)
    • Content-based apps (e.g. Michelin guide apps and e-books, Red Bull’s The Red Bulletin app)


Facebook’s Secret Experiment To Control Your Mood [Full Study Download]

Facebook Mind Virus

Have you just been an unknowing subject in a massive psychological experiment run by Facebook on mass mood-control? Facebook is feeling the heat after revealing that it enrolled 689,003 Facebook users into a covert psychological experiment using ‘emotional contagion ‘ to control people’s mood by manipulating what they see in their news feed (download full study here).

The idea of emotional contagion is simple – moods are ‘catching’, infectious just like colds, laughter, and yawning.  By manipulating which emotionally-charged posts you see on Facebook, Facebook could theoretically manipulate your mood.  The study, edited by psychologist Susan T. Fiske, an eminent expert in social cognition (how our thinking is are influenced and patterned by social stimuli – like other people’s emotional states), found that this theoretical influence – was in fact real.  Facebook can manipulate – to a small degree – your personal mood (measured by the mood of your posts) by manipulating the mood of the posts you see in your newsfeed.

Of course, there are a bunch of methodological caveats/issues to the study (importantly, the accuracy (or rather potential lack of it) of the computer algorithm that decides the mood of the post) and the vanishingly small size of the influence. But the results are consistent with decades of mass media effects research (and surely Facebook counts as mass media today), that show a small but persistent influence of mass media on mood and behaviour (my own research looked at the role of the media in copycat violence and deliberate self-harm). It’s also a central premise in ‘memetics’ – that media channels such as Facebook are vectors for memetic mind viruses.

But what seems to have caught the media’s interest with the study is the covert nature of Facebook’s psychological experiment.  Surely people have a right to known when they are being experimented upon?  Well, perhaps – but the moral outrage is a little disingenuous from media companies that systematically use A/B testing to optimise their ads – or indeed simply use Google analytics.  Every A/B test is effectively a psychological experiment, where subjects are placed into experimental groups – without their knowledge or consent – and exposed to one of two versions of an ad, and their reactions are measured – in order to optimise the ad.  The Facebook mood-control experiment was simply an A/B test using user posts as variables.

The old truism that if you are not paying for the product, you are the product – is all the more true for free online services that make money from your data and ads.

We are all ‘products’ – unpaid psychological subjects – in a massive ongoing experiment on mass mind control and behaviour control.  If Facebook can’t manipulate what we think, feel, say, do or buy, or who we vote for, then it has no business model.

This is not necessarily a bad – or good – thing, but to believe anything else is simply naive.




Truth, Lies and Product Descriptions – The Power of Association [Study]


More evidence about the power of association (vs. persuasion) in marketing. A new online study by the University of Houston has found that simply adding buzzwords associated with an attractive benefit makes a product appear more attractive – independently of any persuasion attempt.  The study, by Dr Temple Northup looked at buzzwords associated with the idea of healthy food (organic, whole grain, organic…) and found that when you add these buzzwords to product descriptions, the perception of the products described improved. Influence by association, not persuasion.

The lesson?  Rather than limit yourself to the hard task of persuading your customers to buy, use the power of association. Capture positive and popular associations (buzzwords, words, forms, emotions, colours…) that people make around a core benefit, and then add those to the product description – and watch sales increase!

Truth, Lies, and Packaging: How Food Marketing Creates a False Sense of Health

The psychology behind this study combines basic priming with the associational nature of human memory.  Mentally, the concept of healthiness is stored in our minds as a cluster of associations we make around the idea of healthiness.  In other words, the associations we make around the idea of healthiness effectively define the meaning of healthiness for us (just as the associations friends make around you effectively define who you are – for your friends).  By using these mental associations in pack or sales copy, we activate the idea of the benefit, without having to persuade.  Simple. And smart.


The ’3 Seekers’ of Gen C – Entertainment, Connection and Information [Google Research]


Google has just published a report segmenting ‘Gen C’ (connected consumers) into three ‘seeker’ profiles based on their primary motivation for going online

  • Entertainment seekers
  • Connection seekers
  • Information seekers

Logically enough, Google suggests that your digital marketing should start with – and match up to consumer motivations.  But, according to Google – information seekers should be your priority because they are better customers and better ‘word of mouth engines’ – they buy more and refer more (1.6x).

So how do you market to information seekers? – Google asked them and found three critical success factors.  In addition to useful information (of course), the survey based research found that information seekers want information to be presented within the context of their personal passions and interests, and for the information to talk about company purpose and principles not just products (e.g. Unilever’s Project Sunlight).

Practical, Passions, Purpose - that’s how to influence your information seekers – those consumers who buy more and refer more.

There are a bunch of other insights in the report, including the power of product demonstrations on YouTube  and the not-so-surprising-but-always-worth-repeating insight that event for Gen C, the most influential way to reach them is old fashioned word of mouth. And a close second - store visits.  Not digital. Digital does not reign supreme, even for the digerati.

Download the PDF report here.




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