By Martin Lindstrom
Have you ever been primed? I mean has anyone ever deliberately influenced your subconscious mind and altered your perception of reality without your knowing it? Whole Foods Market, and others, are doing it to you right now.
Derren Brown, a British illusionist famous for his mind-reading act, set out to prove just how susceptible we are to the many thousands of signals we’re exposed to each day. He approached two creatives from the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi for the “test.” On their journey to his office, Brown arranged for carefully placed clues to appear surreptitiously on posters and balloons, in shop windows, and on t-shirts worn by passing pedestrians.
Upon their arrival, the two creatives were given 20 minutes to come up with a campaign for a fictional taxidermy store. Derren Brown also left them a sealed envelope that was only to be opened once they’d presented their campaign. Twenty minutes later, they presented and then opened the envelope. Lo and behold, Derren Brown’s plans for the taxidermy store were remarkably similar to the ad campaign, with an astounding 95% overlap.
An interesting experiment, you may say, but hardly a trick you’d fall for. But bear this in mind–it’s more than likely you were well primed the last time you went shopping.
Let’s take for example Whole Foods, a market chain priding itself on selling the highest quality, freshest, and most environmentally sound produce. No one could argue that their selection of organic food and take-away meals are whole, hearty, and totally delicious. But how much thought have you given to how they’re actually presenting their wares? Have you considered the carefully planning that’s goes into every detail that meets the eye?
In my new book Brandwashed, I explore the many strategies retailers use to encourage us to spend more than we need to–more than we intend to. Without a shadow of doubt, Whole Foods leads the pack in consumer priming.
Let’s pay a visit to Whole Foods’ splendid Columbus Circle store in New York City. As you descend the escalator you enter the realm of a freshly cut flowers. These are what advertisers call “symbolics”–unconscious suggestions. In this case, letting us know that what’s before us is bursting with freshness.
Flowers, as everyone knows, are among the freshest, most perishable objects on earth. Which is why fresh flowers are placed right up front–to “prime” us to think of freshness the moment we enter the store. Consider the opposite–what if we entered the store and were greeted with stacks of canned tuna and plastic flowers? Having been primed at the outset, we continue to carry that association, albeit subconsciously, with us as we shop.
Read more at Fast Company