Global economic slowdown. Double-dip recession fears. Cash hoarding. Whatever catchphrase those who aren't spending money are using to justify their miserly behavior, consumers who actually are spending money would prefer hearing different words coming from credit card companies: "Thank you, and here's your reward."
Behavioral targeting may put consumers in an adversarial frame of mind, which may result in their attempts to be less predictable, more closed-off and even misleading.
Discretionary dollars. Which consumers have them, and which do not? Which consumers have them but are not spending, and which consumers are spending them? These are the critical questions direct marketers across all verticals must answer.
Psychology—largely defined as the study of the human mind and its functions as they relate to behavior—is not an entirely foreign concept when it comes to marketing, especially direct response activities. For example, Publishers Clearing House knew exactly which human drives it was tapping into with the lick-and-stick magazine stamps in its sweepstakes direct mail packages of yore. But while copy, design and offer development has leveraged psychological findings to the hilt, the utility of this tool can be extended deeper into marketing strategy to develop more continually relevant interactions with prospects and customers.
It's time for marketers to put on their thinking caps, because members of the newest study from NeuroFocus have already donned theirs. And what researchers found while monitoring the subjects' brainwaves may interest marketers who are trying to decide how to allocate their marketing spend between brand and direct.
The Art Institute of Chicago wanted to add a splash of color by injecting youthful new blood into its membership. What it got by advertising through a Web site that geo-targeted consumers was 5,000 new members in the demographic it was trying to reach—18- to 35-year-olds—upping its rolls by 5 percent or 6 percent in one day, says Andrew Mason, founder of Chicago-based publisher Groupon. The bonus was that 97 percent of those signing up for the 50 percent-off membership never had been institute members before.
You know the economy is in a sorry state when the entire American auto industry needs a bailout while consumers are being warned about what gift cards to buy for the holidays . . . in case that store, such as Circuit City or Sears, is no longer there when shopping time comes around. Wow. The turmoil that began in the banking, mortgage and credit sectors, before spreading to the stock market and now automotive industry (well, trouble has been brewing there for quite some time), is taking a serious toll on direct marketing across channels.
No doubt, marketers have long suspected that consumers are making buying decisions based on gut reactions that they reach after absorbing very little information about their products. Now those marketers can find out exactly why. Enter neuromarketing, a science that determines how consumers' brains function while shopping.
So far, the legislation passed by Congress to bail out the financial services sector has provided only a marginal amount of comfort to consumers. The markets continue to see-saw, reports on the economic climate point to the need for more belt-tightening and consumers nervously wait to see how deep this financial trouble will go.