I’ve written before about the army of consultants crying
“consumer behaviour has changed radically”
“marketing doesn’t work anymore”
Who then present nothing more than a repackaging of the orthodoxy. e.g. see my comment on Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow”.
There are many marketing assumptions that need to be changed. Yes, practice can be improved. So by all means let’s talk about this, but anyone advocating specific changes should offer supporting evidence, from serious research.
Harvard Business Review recently published a fairly shameless advertorial for McKinsey’s which makes the mundane observation that the digital age has meant some changes in how consumers learn about and buy brands. The article is all hype and assertion, based apparently on McKinsey ‘research’ that has produced results like “60% of consumer facial skin care products now conduct online research on the products after purchase”. Does anyone believe this ? I’d love to see an independent replication.
They boldly announce that advertisers are spending their money in all the wrong places. Gasp, how terrible. Where’s the evidence ?
They write things like “up to 90% of spend goes to advertising and retail promotions. Yet the most powerful impetus to buy is often someone else’s advocacy”. So what is the implication ? That we should spend more money on stimulating word-of-mouth, fine but research shows that advertising is the major stimulus for brand word-of-mouth (1), so that gets us back where we started.
They present a “NEW” model of the consumer decision making process, that starts with consideration, then evaluation, buying, then hopefully enjoying, advocating, bonding and repeat-buying. It’s a terrible rational, highly involved model, just as Howard & Sheth’s original one was back in 1969 (2). Yes with an audacious straight face they present this as new thinking. Their main thesis is that marketers need to consider all these stages and gain touch-points at each. 20 years ago my colleagues Caroline Rowe and David Corkindale presented a near identical idea, they considered it a useful teaching tool, nothing more.
McKinsey go much further to claim that marketers’ advertising spends are commonly hitting people at the wrong times. But they give no evidence. They seem to assume that advertising has no memory effect. There is an in-built assumption that hitting someone at the moment when they are thinking about the brand/category is the only advertising that works.
And they write as if search advertising doesn’t exist. As if marketers don’t already offer ways for consumers to access their brands during active search.
As I said, a fairly shameless advertorial for McKinsey’s services in social media advertising, which could be excused if only they offered some new insight.
(1) Keller, E., & Fay, B. (2009) “The role of advertising in word of mouth”, Journal of Advertising Research, 49(2), 154-158.
(2) Howard, J. A., & Sheth, J. N. (1969) “The Theory of Buyer Behavior”, New York: John & Wiley Sons, Inc.
Jamhouri, O., & Winiarz, M. (2009) “The enduring influence of TV advertising and communications clout patterns in the global marketplace”, Journal of Advertising Research, 49(2), 227-235.
Rubinson, J. (2009) “Empirical evidence of TV advertising effectiveness”, Journal of Advertising Research, 49(2), 220-226.