Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rapaille-tilian Hot Buttons

The reptile in you.

Dr. Rapaille is a former European Psychologist turned Market Researcher who believes consumers are driven by "unconscious needs and impulses." He claims people make up reasons which attempt to try to make sense of or justify their behavior when in reality they truly have no idea why they act a certain way. He has developed a 3-stage technique which consists of:
  1. Past reason
  2. Through emotion
  3. Primal core
In the first of the stages, Rapaille conducts a series of focus groups in order to gauge what types of responses the subjects will give from the word "luxury." These responses are meant to draw upon associations that the participants may have with the mere thought of luxury. Rapaille looks for and embraces any response, no matter what it may be, in order to allow the respondents to feel like they did a good job and are comfortable with the study.

In the second stage, Rapaille attempts to draw emotional queues from respondents by asking that they tell a story as if they were speaking to a 5-year old from another planet. He explains that by doing so, the participants no longer try to use logic or sound intelligent but instead begin to use simpler means or thoughts in order to provide an explanation and convey a message or meaning. His intention is to confuse them while putting them in this completely different mindset.

Lastly, the third stage hunts for the "primal urges" which consumers often feel when making a purchase decision. Rapaille insists that all purchasing decisions really lie on one's primal core. In order to accomplish this task, the participants are asked to lay down and relax in the room which has had all of its chairs removed and proceed to take a frame of mind similar to one of waking up in the morning. He then attempts to capture these thoughts that would otherwise not display much prominence given a different set of circumstances. By doing so, he can "unlock the luxury code" through the means of obtaining something he dubbed the "reptilian hot buttons" which he believes ultimately encourages individuals to take action.

Mr. Rapaille went on to discuss the importance of finding the "code" and how everything suddenly makes sense afterward. It was mentioned that a French cheese company trying to market cheese in America was "off code." He did not mention what the code was, but alluded to the fact that in France, cheese is "alive" and is therefore not stored in a refrigerator--compared to the U.S. where almost all cheese is refrigerated, hence "dead." The fact that the company was promoting the cheese off-code, according to Rapaille, caused for inappropriate marketing tactics.

That song, so-so-so song.

Song Airlines was supposed to be a new fashioned, low-cost airline under the ownership of Delta Airlines. In my opinion, the experience that Song is trying to create was a good concept--however, it became too much of a concept and not enough of a service. Song wanted to target a certain type of customer, and that was a good idea, however, Andy Spade failed to put enough of a tangible aspect of the product and service that Song was offering which therefore made the consumer lack knowledge about what Song really was: an airline provider.

One thing that song did really well, in my opinion, was the fact that they were able to obtain a deeper understanding of the customer and their wants/needs when it came to flying. Song relied on focus groups and other means of research to figure out how women viewed flying and what sort of issues they felt were commonly ignored on a typical airplane provider. Women and their insights became a driving force for Song airlines, they went as far as creating a profile for their target consumer and naming her. This emphasis on insights and what the consumer really wanted in an airline provided Song with an ability to truly tap into the desires of the target audience and ultimately drove most of Song's features such as satellite TV and organic meals.

Song's real flaw in my mind was its inability to truly exhibit to the consumer its true benefits and what differentiated the airline from other airlines. Spade wanted to pursue a more intangible type of benefit as opposed to highlighting the airlines features. While this is great in its own way, it was not a good idea given the circumstances which Song was dealing with. The airline industry was a struggling one, and consumers knew that. In addition, anyone who is a purchaser or has any sort of purchasing power will be more likely to purchase a product whose features and benefits are well laid out and tangible yet useful. In Song's case, not only did the advertisements as well as the other means of promotion fail to lay out the features, they also failed to deliver the message that Song was an airline provider. Almost 50% of people who had "heard" about Song did not know that it was an airline. If your consumer does not know what product or service you offer, how can they purchase it, or, more importantly, why will they purchase it?

No one is going to fly on an airplane because of some subliminal emotional message they saw on a commercial--they are going to decide on which flight to purchase by evaluating first the price, and then the features that the airline offers. Spade had a good idea, but it just was not right for what Song needed to do. It was too early for the young airline to try to tap into consumers' emotions. The airline had to differentiate itself through its consumer-friendly features such as organic meals, satellite TV, and most importantly low-cost fares. Most importantly, the airline had to show the consumer what it was--an airline.

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