Memory Morphing – the Effects of After-the-fact Advertising

The more we learn about the human brain, the more we will be able to exploit it for the better (and the worse). I am not sure which category this falls into.

Advertisers have found a new way to mess with your mind.

A group of US marketing researchers claim that brand owners can make their customers believe they had a better experience of a product or service than they really did by bombarding them with positive messages after the event. Advocates of the technique, known as "memory morphing", claim it can be used to improve customers' perceptions of products and encourage them to repeat their purchases and recommend brands to friends.

"When asked, many consumers insist that they rely primarily on their own first-hand experience with products – not advertising – in making purchasing decisions. Yet, clearly, advertising can strongly alter what consumers remember about their past, and thus influence their behaviours," he writes in his book, How Customers Think. He says that memories are malleable, changing every time they come to mind, and that brands can use this to their advantage. "What consumers recall about prior product or shopping experiences will differ from their actual experiences if marketers refer to those past experiences in positive ways," he continues.

Should companies really be doing this? This is what I am referring to when I talk about the tough ethical decisions business leaders will face in the future. This is why business schools need to teach more philosophy (what is business about) than just accounting, finance, and marketing.

On one hand, if it makes customers happier, then that is a good thing right? But on the other hand, it is really mental manipulation. If you don't think this is possible, check out the work of Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, who I have read much about, and linked to before (back in May when I wrote about the "business of the future"). Also, check out this old post on Neuromarketing.

Found via BlackBelt Jones.