Articles

Pavlov’s Dog Was More Loyal Than Most

Pavlov was the acclaimed Russian physiologist, psychiatrist and physician who pioneered work in the area of behavioural mnemonics or conditional reflexes. Sounds, words, pictures which trigger desired behaviour embedded into the subconscious. Pavlov did experiments with a dog to demonstrate how an action or behavioural response could be embedded and then triggered. Far from being about thought control - although some unscrupulous organizations have hijacked Pavlov's research and taken it down this path - this theory and it's subsequent refinement recognise that much of what we do is embedded and triggered.

In retail, you will often hear the claim that 90% of why a customer buys is unconscious or subconscious. Asking customers why they bought can therefore be incredibly misleading and what may be true at a point in time is often changed through a continual process of sub-conscious re-evaluation.

Customers evaluate shopping experiences through the senses - sight, sound, touch, taste, smell - on both a thinking and feeling basis. Unconscious and conscious thought is then altered by the social, emotional, physical and rational context in which the customer currently exists.

This is why true brands (as distinct from names or labels) will always be so powerful. Because what made them great has been embedded into the sub-conscious of shoppers and lies ready to be awakened through Pavlovian thinking - through the exploitation of Pavlovian triggers. For example, despite the rational reality of Country Road's execution up until recently, almost to a person customer's feelings about the brand are strong and positive and hark back to when the relationship the customer had was wonderful for them.

Getting the executional elements back on track and re-igniting customer behaviour by using the old embedded mnemonics in a comtemporary way will catapult Country Road back into prominence.

Branding mnemonics are incredibly valuable things and they will only become increasingly so as media fragments. Developing multi-sensory brand iconography that can be embedded along with positive brand experiences is what gives retail businesses longevity - a future. Despite the ups and downs of retail business cycles, strong brands with these kinds of mnemonics and brand iconography always survive and prosper in the medium to long term. Simply because they are aligned to the way human beings work - on a conscious and sub-conscious level.

To provide a strong future for your retail business you need to invest not just money but time, energy and creativity to create a positive customer experience that you own through embedded, multi-sensory brand mnemonics and brand iconography. What business assets like these do you have in your armoury today?