Originally published on Think Marketing Magazine

During my Master’s studies, I fell in love with the idea of combining psychology and marketing tactics to reach consumers on a deeper level.

The idea, in essence, is simple: communicate to consumers a message through non-verbal senses. 

In reality, however, driving demand using psychology is…creepy, but in a funny way.

Here are two studies that will definitely leave a mark:

Women Refuse to Humanely Kill Cockroaches 

One of the best consumer behavior studies I have ever read is the Combat roach killer study.

The study began after US-based Henkel had trouble selling its Combat cockroach killer to its ideal target market. 

The product used a small plastic tray device to get rid of cockroaches in a cleaner, more humane way than the traditional toxic spray cans; yet it wasn’t selling well to an obvious target market of women living in the poorer areas in South American countries, who maintained their preference for spray cans.

Baffled by the data, the company brought in a consumer research firm which began by analyzing a focus group of married women from low-income households.

During the program, the women were asked to draw the roaches and explain what they felt about them.

The results were incredible! All the insects were drawn as males. Not only that, but the stories that accompanied the drawings were all negative and about the men in these women’s lives. 

To them, killing the roaches with a bug spray and watching them squirm and die allowed the women to express their hostility toward their men. 

At the end of the study, the team concluded that the spray gave the women a feeling of power and control, an additional benefit that the humane product Combat was offering couldn’t compete with.

Music Can Change Your Mind 

Did you know that if you are an avid Coca Cola drinker, I can get you to switch to Pepsi just like that? or even better switch entirely to milk?

Connecting music and choice was studied from many angles. However, the Gorn experiment performed in 1982 is widely believed to pioneer the whole idea of music’s effect on choice.

The science behind the experiment is simple, music will be used in an advertisement to make people chose a certain color of a pen rather than another.

Prior to the experiment, subjects were shown two almost identical advertisements, one featured a beige pen and the other featured a blue one. Most test subjects showed neutral feelings to both colors.

Subjects were then asked to pick a preferred piece of music and another they disliked. They were then shown the same advertisements with one slight change, the preferred music was played as the background of the beige pen and the disliked tunes were used as the background for the blue pen advertisement.

At the end of the study, the subjects were invited to take one of the pens away with them, guess which one they all preferred? 

The beige pen, of course, not only that but the subjects’ feeling towards the blue pen changed from neutral to negative.

So how do these studies help you with your brand? No matter what your job function is, the above studies mean the same thing to your business, your customer is an irrational human being, address feelings not logic.