ZMET for Metaphor Marketing
'Metaphor marketing' is nothing but brain
scan marketing. Zaltman, an expert psychologist says that
lot of activities and thoughts revolve in a persons mind
without his being aware of it. These activities at the conscious
and sub-conscious levels influence a persons actions,
often below his awareness level. For unearthing those hidden
feelings and knowledge, new techniques are needed - to get
at what people don't know they know.
Zaltman developed a technique now known as
the ZMET, Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique -a
technique for eliciting inter-connected constructs that
influence thought and behaviour. This method combines
neurobiology, psychoanalysis, linguistics, and art theory
to uncover the mental models that guide consumer behaviour
to illuminate the dark shadows of the customer brain.
Metaphor marketing uses positron emission
topography (brain scans) to locate how - or more precisely,
where - consumers think.
Studies undertaken by cognitive scientists
revealed that human beings think in images, not in words.
Most market research techniques use words, not images. They
are based on the age-old method of surveys, questionnaires,
and focus groups. Sociolinguists know that most communication
is nonverbal. In spite of this, most research tools are
"People can give us only what we give
them the opportunity to provide," Zaltman says. "To
the extent that we structure the stimulus - whether it's
a discussion guide in a focus group or a question in a survey
- all people can do, is respond. And there's value in that.
But I see those as strip-mining techniques," Zaltman
says, deploying - what else? - A metaphor. "Sometimes
the valuable ore is on the surface. But often it's not.
Strip-mining techniques are inappropriate when there's a
great deal more depth to be had. Typically, the deeper you
go, the more value there is."
Motorola hadto market a new security system.
Hoping to understand the metaphorical side of the product,
a few managers used ZMET to ask - How do potential customers
feel when they're secure and when they're insecure? They
had to give some pictorial or visual depiction of what they
thought.The images that subjects selected were Dogs. Interviewees
revealed that canines represented comfort and security:
the feeling of protection that comes from knowing that a
loyal animal is looking out for them. This finding could
have enormous implications for how the product is positioned
- less as a technological gizmo, more as a companion - and
for how it is named. Don't call it "The Talkatron."
Call it, say, "The Watchdog."
Metaphor marketing can be immensely successful
and the insight into understanding how visual cues and signals
can lead them occasionally into anomalous or distinctive
interpretations for effective strategy.