Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So many, many reasons they're so mmmMMM fooled.

We recently came across this article in the Wall Street Journal discussing the Campbell’s Soup brand and the company’s attempt to redesign the packaging of their iconic soup based on extensive neuromarketing research using biometrics, eye-tracking systems, video and special vests that monitor the moisture in the skin.

Before we get into this, can we just take a moment to say, “REALLY!?!?” Campbell’s, just a reminder… you are selling soup. Soup! Whoever is doing your market research is ripping you off.

So, why would anyone go to all this trouble to monitor the heart rates of prospective customers as they select a can of soup? The answer is that they’re probably influenced by big words. Neuromarketing is a field of marketing dedicated to the chemical reactions taking place in the brain and the resulting emotions and responses elicited by them and how that affects purchases. It’s very fancy, but it’s also a little outrageous.

We’re not saying that “neuromarketing” is without merit or that we don’t believe in science. We do! Science is good! But measuring the rate of change of the dilation of your customers’ pupils is a little extreme if not invasive. If you really want to find out what your customers want, put yourself in their shoes and think logically.

If you read the linked article, you’ll discover that after all this research documenting the physiological minutia of their customers, they decided to redesign the label based on their results. And what happened next? Nothing. If you don’t extrapolate the data in terms of REAL emotion, your experiment is incomplete, and this research failed to attribute any emotion to the data. In fact, the article states that most people hardly blinked an eye when making a decision. Duh. Choosing between chicken noodle and chicken with stars is hardly monumental. Canned soup isn’t bought to eat that day – it’s to eat later when you’re out of everything else and you want something warm and easy to make.

So how do they make their brand more emotional and get people’s attention? First of all, they need to run a campaign that gets customers to stop and think about soup. People eat soup all the time, so why not Campbell’s? Maybe they should have events at schools for parents and children or become more active on social media, interacting personally with real life soup shoppers. Or, perhaps, they should run a Campbell’s Soup kitchen (in a high-visibility area) for the less fortunate and show their dedication as a brand to the community and their longevity in the industry… or even target college campuses! We came up with those ideas in literally 15 seconds. And if they’re already doing these things (I do know they have an active Twitter account and feature some of their product lines on YouTube), perhaps they’re not doing it the right way. Social media doesn’t work alone, and neither do charity projects – it takes media relations, a fresh approach to advertising and in-your-face, hands-on interaction with customers. With real thought and effort, we bet they could find a multitude of ways to achieve this goal – all for less than it probably costs to analyze someone’s perspiration.

Changing the label at this point will only ostracize those customers that do identify with the Campbell’s brand (and after Andy Warhol, who doesn’t?). Harness nostalgia and make a noticeable, real impact with customers, Campbell’s, and THEN you’ll see results.

Bottom line: Instead of analyzing brains,
just use one. Sometimes the most obvious solution is the best one (Occam’s razor)… that’s science. 


Jennifer said...

Try this article for more detailed information. http://www.fastcompany.com/article/rebuttal-pseudo-science-in-campbells-soup-not-so-fast

Shear Creativity said...


Thanks for the link to this article. While there's some validity to the effort, my other research has indicated that the measures taken (like adding steam to the soup) have had very little effect on the consumer. It's interesting to note the biological aspects of decision-making and marketing, but spending two years and lots of money for results that did little to alter perception seems inefficient. There's probably more of a middle ground to be taken, don't you think?

Schooley02 said...

Loving the Occam's Razor reference. I don't know why us humans have a tendency to over think and over complicate things.

Shady marketers sometimes will over complicate strategies in an attempt to confuse the client and give the illusion of value. Maybe that's what happened with Cambell's.

On a positive note, they know for certain what not to do in the future! ;)

Great post.

Shear Creativity said...


Thanks for the kind words and for checking us out!