Have you ever considered that the marketing and manufacturing of a brand are totally inseparable when it comes to perceived value? Instead of thinking about marketing as a cost, smart businesses are able to see it in terms of value creation: the competitive advantage for the brands that they sell.

The average marketer, however, believes that we can make the distinction between the value of a brand created by manufacturing vs. marketing. They’ve even given them names: “intrinsic” value and “extrinsic” value.

The truth is, the distinction between the two is virtually impossible to make when estimating the perceived value of a brand because it’s comprised of multiple sensory perceptions (the TV advert, the packaging, the brand ambassador, the taste, the experience etc.) that our brains cannot actually separate in recall-mode. See the McGurk effect* for more information about this.

By increasing the level of marketing investment in a brand, a business is actually increasing the perceived value of the brand in both “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” terms.

Another little-known truth is that too much market research is a death sentence to any brand. While market research may provide a guide to why people do what they do, businesses should never take these results at face value.

Market research is often used as sufficient evidence for why people behave the way they do in terms of purchase decisions/indecisions. There is a massive problem with this because motivations and impulses do not behave like facts and they are not actually stored in our memory at all.

Motivations are actually constructed and deconstructed as we go along, based on our environments, experiences, and self-awareness. They are constantly improvised and adapted, never forming in the same way again. This means that the actual cause of human motivation is totally inaccessible in memory terms, and cannot be retrieved and articulated for the purpose of market research.

Because these motivations cease to exist after an action, market research forces people to invent rational sounding explanations for their behaviour. These rational explanations are based on our understanding of who we are/should be/would like to be, given the context of the action. The answers that result from this type of reasoning are not genuine motivations but rather a reflection of how people perceive themselves relative to their environments.

Lastly, the chance of charming creativity is bludgeoned by most research results. Brands that are brave enough to step away from the safety net of hard research data/results and economic models are the ones that gain an advantage over their competitors and make a real difference to their bottom lines.

Being allowed to abandon the “broken binoculars” of market research is the only we that we can actually open our brands up to extraordinary creative opportunities.

Here’s a great example. If you give a restaurant diner the chance to gamble for a free meal, by rolling a dice at the end of the meal, with the instruction that if he/she rolls a six, the meal is for free. For an economist this would be exactly the same as a discount of 16.6%. For you as a diner, however, this would change your behaviour completely. You will order more food, based on the chance of getting the meal for free.

The 16.6% discount will not change the amount of food you order at all and it won’t be in the least bit exciting for any diner, even if he’s an economist. Anyone would choose to take the gamble. Creativity is so much more exciting when it isn’t constrained by the shackles of the rational market research.

We love working with the country’s best marketers, the kind of marketers who are bold enough to move beyond the choke-hold of pointless data and robust but misguided research results.

Be brave and allow smart marketing to add massive value to your brands in 2016.


* The McGurk effect is a perceptual phenomenon that demonstrates an interaction between hearing and vision in speech perception. The illusion occurs when the auditory component of one sound is paired with the visual component of another sound, leading to the perception of a third sound.