Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Sweet Sixteen

For one reason or another, I've been looking at presentations from a number of major market research agencies lately and one thing that the quant agencies are trying to do is to get a handle on the way people respond to communication emotionally.

Interestingly, agencies are looking at ways of classifying human emotions or motivations (NB: I'm not using these terms inter-changeably as others seem to do!) and using this as a basis for quantifying response to a piece of advertising - what desire does the brand meet or which emotion does the advertising evoke?

I was reminded in all of this of my own studies and one thing that's remarkable is that most of these grids and lists seem to focus on the magic number 16! There was the personality inventory, the Myers-Briggs grid and another Magic 16 that seems to be referenced by many of the research agencies is Professor Steven Reiss' "16 Basic Desires".

It seems reasonable that these desires govern behaviour to some extent but I would question whether they really define someone's personality. Personality is surely something more fundamental, more complex, more long-term. And I also wonder if there should be some good old Maslow-esque hierarchy at play here: can you really put "Eating" and "Idealism" on the same level? And where is creativity ?

But as a basic list, it's not bad and could certainly help in defining which human desires your brand in particular can satisfy.

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