Mindfulness has taken over popular culture. There’s everything from mindfulness apps to mindfulness colouring books. Though mindfulness is not new, Buddhist monks have been practising mindfulness for thousands of years and western medicine is now using the practice to manage and treat some mental illnesses. But how can this practice be applied to advertising?
Think about the simple task of grocery shopping. You write ice cream on your shopping list. Once you get to the frozen section of the supermarket you select a tub of Streets ice cream. It’s on sale and you vaguely remember seeing an ad for it. This is known as mindless consumption.
In contrast, you write down ice cream on your shopping list and next to it you write Ben & Jerry’s. You know the brand aligns with your social conscience as it makes strong ethical and political statements. It is more expensive, but you know that you’re buying more than just ice cream. This is known as mindful consumerism.
Daniel Kahneman, who won the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, provides a theoretical platform for the way the brain forms thoughts which better explains this phenomenon. To put it simply, there are two types of systems. System 1 or ‘fast thinking’ is fast, automatic, and subconscious; and System 2 or ‘slow thinking’ is conscious, deliberative and rational.
Mindless consumption engages fast thinking. Consumers select a category, then choose a brand that is top of mind and has physical availability. For this reason, it is important that a wide-reaching and always-on strategy is employed. The downside is that there is no real brand loyalty as consumers are simply selecting the product that is mentally and physically available.
Mindful consumption engages slow thinking, giving consumers the opportunity to truly consider if they really want to consume the brand before making a purchase. To engage consumers in mindful consumerism you need to set up a platform for slow thinking. This can be done by ensuring consumers:
(1) Attend to your brand, not just to the category. Brands must innovate enabling them to create a category of their own.
(2) Accept and understand the brand in totality. Consumers need to understand the long and short term benefits of their consumption.
(3) Engage with the brand, and co-create alongside you. Have consumers consult from market research through to product design.
Whether mindless or mindful advertising strategies are implemented in a campaign depends a lot on budget, creative executions and how comfortable the Brand Manager is with taking their brand in what could be an unexpected direction. If your brand engages mindful strategies, it is likely there will be a few changes in how consumers engage with your brand:
(1) Consumers will place more value on it.
(2) Consumers will be prepared to pay more for it.
(3) Consumers will stay loyal.
(4) But there is the potential for a drop in the number of sales – it’s a value vs volume trade off.
Just something to think about…
Toni Dobbyn is an Account Co-ordinator at BCM