MARK217: Subliminal Perception

For me, one of the most interesting concepts in this week’s lecture was subliminal perception. Subliminal perception is the process of using very weak or rapid stimuli at a level which is below the consumers conscious awareness (Algie, 2014). In order to be successful, stimuli must be beneath the threshold of awareness but “not beneath the absolute threshold of the receptors involved” (Schiffman et al, 2014, p.154). Subliminal perception is used either to subtly advertise a product through another source of entertainment (such as a TV show or movie) or to attach an idea (such as sex and power) to a product within its own advertisement.

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One of the most famous examples of subliminal advertising was in the late 1950s when its effectiveness was tested at a drive-in in New Jersey. The words ‘eat popcorn’ and ‘drink Coca Cola’ were flashed on the screen repeatedly during the movie. It was reported that in the 6 week period of the test, popcorn sales increased by 58% per cent and Coca Cola by 18 per cent however this was never confirmed and was later deemed false (Schiffman et al, 2014).

Another more recent example was in 2007 when a viewer spotted a McDonald’s logo embedded within a screening of the Iron Chef TV program. The logo flashed for just 1/30th of a second. McDonald’s denied that this was subliminal advertising and suggested that this was merely a technical glitch. (O’Barr, 2013).

Here’s some more funny examples of subliminal perception:

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Pepsi cans and subliminal messages?

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Jatz- this one’s pretty far-fetched!

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Silhouette of a naked woman atop of Coke can?

Subliminal advertising is often associated with consumer mistrust and there has been very little evidence that supports its effectiveness. A comprehensive study of existing literature found that subliminal advertising has no effect on attitudes towards products and consumption behaviour (Schiffman et al, 2014). It has also been found that many American consumers believe that subliminal advertising exists and is used frequently by advertisers. Advertisers often play on this and produce advertisements that parody subliminal advertising.

 

References:

Algie, J 2014, ‘Week 5: Perception’, MARK217, lecture, University of Wollongong, viewed 3 April 2014

O’Barr, WM 2013, ‘”Subliminal” Advertising’, Advertising & Society Review, Vol. 13, Iss. 4

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, Australia

BCM310: Participatory Journalism…but what is it?

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With the rise of convergent media, the future of journalism is looking more uncertain than ever before. Media convergence has created new opportunities for public involvement, new forms of content delivery as well as new competition for mainstream journalism. This trend marks a shift from passive media consumers to a ‘prosumer’ culture and a blurring of boundaries between citizens and professional journalists (O’Donnell, 2014).  This phenomenon is known as participatory journalism, but what does that mean for the future of journalism?

Domingo et al note that traditionally journalism is affixed to the institution of media and is “based upon the production of news by the dedicated paid labour, the journalists” (2008, p. 326). This notion is practically obsolete with consumers producing more media content and contributing to news sources like never before. Additionally, the role of the ‘gate keeper’ is being challenged. The phrase ‘gate keeper’ depicts the main role of traditional journalists, that is, to determine what information and how much of it the public should be privy to (Domingo et al, 2008). Though, this too, is becoming obsolete. New technologies and social media are allowing for increased content production and public access to a “potentially global audience” at any time (Domingo et al, 2008). This means that the public is tightening their grip on what news is discussed and how much attention it will get. Now when an important world event materialises, we switch onto social media and online media forums to access news sources and join in the conversation.

In many cases, traditional and new media have a symbiotic relationship in which they inform and play off one another. Additionally, professional and citizen journalists collaborate to produce content (Redefiningjournalism, 2011). Despite this move towards participatory journalism globally, mainstream media is still of the utmost importance as it is an “essential tool for reaching a domestic and global audience” (Simon quoted in Crouch, 2012). In other words, you can’t have one without the other.

 

References:

Crouch, D 2012, ‘Arab media make most of citizen journalism’, FT.com, 21 February

Domingo, D, Quandt, T, Heinonen, A, Paulussen, S, Singer, JB & Vujnovic, M 2008, ‘Participatory Journalism Practices in the Media and Beyond’, Journalism Practice, Vol. 2, Iss. 3, pp. 326-342

O’Donnell, M 2014, ‘The future of journalism’, Lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, viewed 31 March 2014

Redefiningjournalism 2011, ‘Participatory Journalism: what do you think it means?’, Redefining Journalism’s Blog, weblog post, 2 February, viewed 5 March 2014, http://redefiningjournalism.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/participatory-journalism-what-do-you-think-that-means/

MARK217: Brand Personality- Mac vs. PC

So first of all, what is brand personality? Well, brand personality can be defined quite simply as “a set of human characteristics associated with a particular brand” (Steinman, 2012, p. 76). This concept is irrevocably connected to the study of consumer behaviour as it describes the phenomenon of how some consumers identify and relate to specific brands (Schiffman et al, 2014, p. 136). In many instances, brand managers personify their brands by transforming their product or service into a human-like character. Aaker has produced a brand personality framework (see diagram below, sorry it’s a bit blurry) that intends to depict the ‘structure and nature’ of a brand’s personality. The framework proposes that there are five personality dimensions of a brand (sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness) and 15 personality traits in accordance with each (Schiffman et al, 2014). This framework covers most of brand attributes that would appeal to a variety of consumers.

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When I think of brand personality, I immediately think of Apple Mac computers and their famous Mac vs. PC advertisements. Mac employs the actor Jason Long and personifies itself as a cool, young, hip, fun and creative type and personifies Mac as old, out of date and boring. Take a look at the YouTube video below to refresh your memory!

This falls right under the ‘excitement’ dimension of the brand personality framework and encompasses the four facets that make this up. Apple Mac positions itself as daring, spirited, imaginative and up-to-date and effectively positions its number one competition as old-fashioned and nerdy. This is an example of successful brand personification as consumers are able to relate to Mac’s personality and build a relationship with the brand based on feelings and associations. It also cleverly enables Apple to advertise its latest products and features and edge out its current competition in a humorous and endearing way.  

References:

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, Australia

Steinman, RB 2012, ‘Brand personality, Brand Transgression and Consumer Behavior’, International Journal of Business and Commerce, Vol. 2, Iss. 1, pp.76-86

MARK217: Brand Personality- Mac vs. PC

So first of all, what is brand personality? Well, brand personality can be defined quite simply as “a set of human characteristics associated with a particular brand” (Steinman, 2012, p. 76). This concept is irrevocably connected to the study of consumer behaviour as it describes the phenomenon of how some consumers identify and relate to specific brands (Schiffman et al, 2014, p. 136). In many instances, brand managers personify their brands by transforming their product or service into a human-like character. Aaker has produced a brand personality framework (see diagram below) that intends to depict the ‘structure and nature’ of a brand’s personality. The framework proposes that there are five personality dimensions of a brand (sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness) and 15 personality traits in accordance with each (Schiffman et al, 2014). This framework covers most of brand attributes that would appeal to a variety of consumers.

When I think of brand personality, I immediately think of Apple Mac computers and their famous Mac vs. PC advertisements. Mac employs the actor Jason Long and personifies itself as a cool, young, hip, fun and creative type and personifies Mac as old, out of date and boring. Take a look at the YouTube video below to refresh your memory!

This falls right under the ‘excitement’ dimension of the brand personality framework and encompasses the four facets that make this up. Apple Mac positions itself as daring, spirited, imaginative and up-to-date and effectively positions its number one competition as old-fashioned and nerdy. This is an example of successful brand personification as consumers are able to relate to Mac’s personality and build a relationship with the brand based on feelings and associations. It also cleverly enables Apple to advertise its latest products and features and edge out its current competition in a humorous and endearing way.

References:

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, Australia

Steinman, RB 2012, ‘Brand personality, Brand Transgression and Consumer Behavior’, International Journal of Business and Commerce, Vol. 2, Iss. 1, pp.76-82

BCM310: The blurred lines of journalism and entertainment

For years, journalism was the solitary source that determined how we understood the world around us. However, this is no longer the case. With the ever-increasing rise and birth of new technologies, journalism has become just one of the facets that moulds public perspective of society and culture. The advent of social media particularly, has had an effect on what is considered journalism and what isn’t. In conjunction with this, in many instances, it is now entertainment media which underpins and forms public opinion regarding political issues.

In Berkowitz’s article ‘Journalism in the broader cultural mediascape’, he outlines a shift in journalism’s role and discusses the implications this has had on society in general (2009). He suggests that the lines between “news, analysis, opinion and entertainment” have become increasingly blurred and proposes that popular culture and journalism have merged (p. 290). Indeed, we can see examples of this in contemporary entertainment media. For example, the television series Modern Family deals, not only with issues of the dysfunctional family but also notions of equality and gay rights. By dealing with these issues in a comical manner, the show reinforces the normalcy of same-sex relationships and elucidates the importance of equal rights while the media is abuzz with journalism regarding these same issues.

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Similarly, McGuigan (2005) identifies a shift from Habermas’ literary public sphere into the cultural public sphere. He defines the cultural public sphere as “the articulation of politics, public and personal, as a contested terrain through affective (aesthetic and emotional) modes of communication)”. McGuigan suggests that it is through entertainment such as soap operas, reality television and celebrity scandal, that much of public opinion regarding political issues is informed.      

By looking at ideas from both Berkowitz and McGuigan’s texts, we can see that there has been a blending of the boundaries between journalism and popular culture. What was once deemed entertainment, now manifests journalistic value and plays a role in the debate of current political issues in the public sphere.

 

References:
McGuigan, J 2005, ‘The cultural public sphere’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 8, Iss. 4, pp. 427-443

Berkowitz, D 2009, ‘Journalism in the broader cultural mediascape’, Journalism, Vol. 10. Iss. 3, pp. 290-292

MARK217: Big Decisions…

This morning, a very sad thing happened. My favourite and only phone died. It’s an iPhone 4S that I’ve had for just over two years and in that time I have dropped it over and over and over again. Yes, it has served me well. But now I must make the big decision of what kind of phone to get next? Should I buy a cheap 4S off EBay? Should I go on another plan and get the latest iPhone 5? Should I switch brands and get a completely different phone? Should I buy the cheapest phone I can find until I make a decision?! The only positive thing about this is that I now have a topic for this week’s blog on week 4’s topic: Decision Making.

But what is a decision? In its most simple terms, a decision is “the selection of an action from two or more alternative choices” (Schiffman et al, 2014, p. 486). There are three levels of consumer decision making. These are extensive problem solving, limited problem solving and routinized response behaviour. Additionally, there are four different views of decision making. These are the economic model, the passive model, the cognitive model and the emotional model (Schiffman et al, 2014, p. 489). In regards to buying a new phone, I would say this involves routinized-response behaviour as I have some experience with the product category and an established set of criteria for which to base my decision on.

So…rather than making an emotional decision and rushing out to buy the latest iPhone which I can’t afford, instead I plan to (but who knows?) employ a cognitive approach. This will mean weighing up the possible benefits and risks of several different brands and primarily make a rational decision based on an internal and external information search (Solomon, 2006).

References:

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, Australia

Solomon, MR 2006, Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being, 7th edn, Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ

MARK217: Consumer Research

Consumer research, particularly when introducing a new product to the market, has an irrevocable influence on the success or failure of that product. Consumer research aims to uncover attitudes, motivators and behaviours that are at the heart of consumer activity as well as brand or product selection. It intends to either predict or understand consumer behaviour. There are two types of consumer research: quantitative and qualitative research (Algie, 2014). Quantitative research is descriptive in nature and endeavors to predict consumer behaviour using surveys, experiments and observation. Qualitative research however, works to form a detailed understanding of consumer behaviour using in-depth interviews, focus groups and projective techniques (Algie, 2014). Whilst both have their merits, it is advisable to use a dual approach when researching consumer behaviour to produce optimum results (Algie, 2014). When developing new products or product line extensions, consumer research is vital. It can rule out bad ideas in the initial stages of the development process and “prevents unjustified investments” (Van Kleef, 2006).

There are numerous examples of products in the food and drink category that failed miserably due to poor consumer research. Two memorable examples, both produced by the Coca Cola company, were New Coke and Coca Cola Blak. New Coke was released in 1985 after Coca Cola conducted blind taste tests which found consumers preferred the taste of Pepsi. To remedy this, the Coca Cola company produced a new sweeter formula which research showed consumers enjoyed more than both classic Coke and Pepsi (Hiskey, 2012). However, Coca Cola underestimated customers brand loyalty to classic Coke and shortly after the launch of New Coke, the company announced the return of the classic formula (Hiskey, 2012). This was something that could have been anticipated in the research stages of development if the right questions were being asked.

Similarly, the Coca Cola company produced an extension-line product called Coca Cola Blak in 2006 (Cleghorn, 2008). The product was a coffee-flavoured cola which took two years to develop and was targeted at adult consumers who were calorie conscious (Kamiri, 2006). Shortly after its launch, Coca Cola Blak was criticized for tasting horrible and was pulled from shelves just over a year after its release (nickgerlich, 2007). This is an example that reiterates the importance of listening to consumers and conducting detailed research, particularly when something as obvious as taste was the reason for the products demise.

By looking at two examples, both produced by the Coca Cola company, it is evident that consumer research is vital when developing new products and plays a major role in the success or failure of a product or brand.

If you want to see some more bizarre food products that failed, have a look here:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/paulf24/17-products-that-failed-miserably-b5ra

 

Reference List:

Algie, J 2014, ‘Week 2: Consumer Research’, Lecture, MARK217, University of Wollongong, delivered 13 March 2014

Cleghorn, D 2008, ‘Why Coca Cola Blak failed’, YahooVoices, blog post, 10 December, viewed 18 March 2014, http://voices.yahoo.com/why-coca-cola-blak-failed-1988114.html?cat=35

Hiskey, D 2012, ‘Why coke tried to switch to “new coke”‘, todayifoundout.com, 23 November, viewed 18 March 2014, http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2012/11/why-coke-tried-to-switch-to-new-coke/

Nickgerlich 2007, ‘Blak Eye’, WordPress, blog post, 7 September, viewed 18 March 2014, http://nickgerlich.wordpress.com/2007/09/07/blak-eye/

Van Kleef, E 2006, Consumer Research in early stages of new product development: Issues and applications in the food domain, StudyMode.com, viewed 18 March 2014,  http://www.studymode.com/essays/Consumer-Research-In-The-Early-Stages-922216.html