Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Marketing Research Techniques and Mission Branding/Marketing

Today in reading chapter 5 of Blink, entitled Kenna's Dilemma,I received quite an education regarding the benefits and limits of marketing research (illustrations included the rock star Kenna's failure to attain wide recognition due to the limitations of focus group methodology, the reason for and failure of New Coke, the Herman Miller company's successful Aeron chair, and the expertise of professional food tasters and other specialists).

Amongst other observations, the author notes "simply that when we put something in our mouth and in that blink of an eye decide whether it tastes good or not, we are reacting not only to the evidence from our taste buds and salivary glands but also to the evidence of our eyes and memories and imaginations, and it is foolish of a company to service one dimension and ignore the other" (page 164). In conclusion, with regard to Kenna Gladwell notes that "the people who had a way to structure their first impressions, the vocabulary to capture them, and the experience to understand them, loved Kenna, and in a perfect world that would have counted for more than the questionable findings of market research" (p. 186).

In the discussion of Chef Boyardee Ravioli and the picture of the chef Hector which adorns the can, the author notes that "the general rule is, the closer consumers get to the food itself, the more consumers are going to be conservative. What that means for Hector is that in this case he needs to look pretty literal. You want to have the face as a recognizable human being that you can relate to. Typically, close-ups of the face work better than full-body shots. We tested Hector in a number of different ways. Can you make the ravioli taste better by changing him? Mostly you can blow it, like by making him a cartoon figure… The more you go to cartoon characters, the more of an abstraction Hector becomes, the less and less effective you are in perceptions of the taste and quality of the ravioli" (p. 164).

All this had me wondering what principles are being intentionally utilized behind-the-scenes in how we market missions and the denomination these days. Not being in the know, I wonder exactly how the National Office decides how to "put a face" on missions in their promotional work…. What paradigms are at work with regard to which fields to emphasize, which missionaries to put on special tours and promo-ops at General Council (done frequently and very well at this year's council)? Also, what principles are being utilized in the branding strategies we have been seeing in recent years with the new logo, etc? The comments and insights of anyone in the know about marketing in the national office in this regard would be greatly appreciated!

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