Behavioural Economics Gets Real: Probably the largest implicit market study in history, for one of the world's best known brands

Leigh Caldwell, Lizzi Seear


The global economy is shifting towards the intangible.

An ever-greater share of the value that customers get from the products and services they buy is invisible. It is made up of emotional, not material benefits (Van Boven and Gilovich, 2003).

When consumers make decisions about these products and services they are not primarily motivated by the product features, nor by rational evaluation of the benefits and tradeoffs of each product. They are motivated by the emotions that the product evokes, the symbolic meanings it brings, and a broad, approximate judgement about how well the product solves their problems.

The evidence for this is clear, and comes from many sources. More products and more data is available than ever before, so customers are forced to use more shortcuts and heuristics to filter and judge them. As material wealth increases, and basic material needs are more easily met by the economy, the only layer that is left to compete on is the symbolic and emotional level. Product and service decisions are mediated more and more through digital media - mobile or online - and in these contexts only a subjective version of the product can be experienced. That subjectivity is the field in which competition, and marketing, now operate.