Category: The Science of Marketing

Musings on interdisciplinary scientific research, trends and findings that affect (and, in some cases, effect) the way we market goods, services and opportunities.

10 Sep 2010

The (annoying) genius of IKEA

Image of an Ikea store
Shopping here makes me frIKEAn crazy!

If you’ve ever been to an IKEA store, then you know that once you’re in the showroom, it’s not immediately apparent how to cut quickly to the checkouts.  Instead, you are directed through aspirational kitchens and bathrooms and past a vast number of furniture displays.  The average shopping experience at IKEA takes over 1/2 hour and most people invariably come out with lots of things they didn’t plan to buy.

There are plenty of short cuts to allow people out, but they are always cleverly located behind you – in the direction opposite from the arrows that lead you through the showroom floor.  As a result, people just don’t notice them.  IKEA didn’t do it to annoy people (contrary to popular belief), it’s that, as humans, our forward-facing vision is the key to why we all follow the windy route through the showroom.

Credit IKEA for making displays that attract your attention and convince you to purchase items that you didn’t intend to buy (which may be because shoppers enjoy the feeling of delayed gratification – the sense they’ve invested enough time to earn the purchase of additional items), but credit science for the process that got you there in the first place.


08 Sep 2010

Can you hear me now?

That guy from Verizon
Can you hear me now?

Last week we were asked to help troubleshoot technical issues that a company (who shall remain nameless) was having with a mobile marketing campaign.

Without giving too much away, the plan is to use a location-based system to call people on their cell phones and direct them to a special marketing event in their area.  I’m not doing it justice (because we didn’t do it), but it is actually pretty cool.  Anyway, the problem was that it wasn’t working.  According to the system identifying the cell phones, people should be at Point A, but were really at Point B, and everything just sort of fell off from there.

Fortunately, it only took a few quick questions to diagnose the problem – no, they aren’t using GPS; yes; they had good signal strength; no, it didn’t matter which carrier; no, it worked just fine on their campus – just not downtown; and no, it wasn’t everyone – just some people.

Mystery solved!  A few adjustments to the algorithm that was being used to identify the target audience and everything was back up and running.  I’m told that the marketing test was fairly successful and the program will be rolled out to more locations in the near future.  So don’t be too alarmed if you get a call in the near future from someone that seems to know exactly where you are invites you to come to a cool location quite near where you are.


06 Sep 2010

Selective Attention and Marketing

If you’re already familiar with the Chabris and Simons Selective Attention Test, then keep reading.  If not, then click here and watch the video carefully.  The goal of the experiment is to count the number of times people in white pass the ball.  Come back here once you’ve finished the video (you will get the answer at the end of the video).


04 Sep 2010

A video is worth a thousand keywords.

Let’s face it – video is really starting to take over the Web.  Why read something when you can watch it?  I mean, it’s much cooler to watch an opposing running back consistently break through the Kansas Chief’s defense and rack up 200 yards that it is to read about it later.  Yes, I am bitter.

Anyway, chances are pretty good that the video is on the Web, but the problem is finding it.  Over 1,000,000 World Cup 2010 videos were uploaded to YouTube alone, so you can imagine that (more…)

02 Sep 2010

SEO What?

At bloomfield knoble, we recognize that Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing are important aspects to creating successful integrated campaigns.  It’s just that the entire concept of keyword searching is so 2010.

Over a decade ago, Tim Berners-Lee suggested the idea of a semantic Web – the idea that information should be stored in a machine-readable format – and thanks to Google, Twitter and Facebook, it may finally be coming true.  A semantic Web would allow computers to handle information in ways we would find more useful, because they would be processing the concepts within documents rather than just the document (more…)

30 Aug 2010

The next big (small) thing in digital signage.

As designers of digital signage, we want to use computers, but can’t.  The reason is because computers (generally) rely on Random Access Memory.  In RAM, individual bits of data can be accessed and changed.  This makes RAM very fast, since the computer can directly access the data it wants to manipulate.  Computers can tweak small parts of the dataset stored in RAM and not disturb the rest.  But most RAM has a major limitation – it’s volatile, meaning the data lasts only as long as there is a power supply.  Unplug the RAM and it’s (more…)

28 Aug 2010

Can Blogs and Tweets predict the future?

Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, and his colleague Hyunyoung Choi think so.  Researchers at Google used the frequency of certain search terms to forecast the sales of homes, cars and other products.  Their research showed how the volume of searches for certain products, such as types of car, rose and fell in line with monthly sales.  Google keeps extensive records of what is being searched which makes Varian and Choi’s method a far quicker way of gauging purchasing behavior than traditional sales forecasts, which are often made by looking back at purchasing patterns. (more…)

26 Aug 2010

Quantum Physics and Marketing

According to quantum theory, entangled particles behave as if they have an instantaneous link to their partners that spans the entire Universe.  Once regarded as a delicate and esoteric effect, quantum entanglement is proving surprisingly robust and is likely to be one of the key concepts of 21st century technology.  Theorists have also proved that, in principle at least, entanglement would allow people to win at guessing games without communicating in any conventional way in a phenomenon dubbed “quantum pseudo-telepathy.”  Theorists now think entanglement may be relatively common in nature.  Studies of biochemicals have revealed correlations in their properties that seem to be consistent with the existence of entanglement.  This has led some scientists to suspect that entanglement may have an important role to play in the functioning of the human mind. (more…)

23 Aug 2010

Neuromarketing is going mainstream.

I recently read a fascinating article by Graham Lawton, deputy editor of New Scientist.  They recently utilized neuromarketing (a marriage of market research and neuroscience) to  determine which (of three) magazine cover they should use.  The idea was to observe reactions of people on a level that would not normally be possible.

Market research has traditionally relied on methods such as questionnaires and focus groups to gauge how consumers will respond to new products.  These tools have their strengths, but they share one fatal weakness – they depend on asking people what they think.  It’s not just that people are inclined to say what they think others want to hear, and to give answers that they think reflect favorably upon themselves.  According to Gregory Berns, a neuroeconomist at Emory University in Atlanta, the problem is that much of the decision-making process happens at a subconscious level, and experiments reveal that people are (more…)