The 'Validity' & 'Invalidity' of theory

Sandeep wonder's 'if all the theory on marketing, consumer behaviour, advertising etc. taught in classrooms really makes any sense in the real world?'

My take?

It will (make sense) if their applications are effected appropriately. The trick here is to know when to apply (theory) and when to reject and go with your 'instinct'. Let me illustrate. The Maslowian hierarchy helps any manager identify the right tools of motivation depending on which level on the hierarcy the 'subject' exists. If the manager were to know that the subject in question seeks 'esteem', a better sounding job title with a few added responsibilities can effect an increased dose of motivation within the subject. Any manager blissfully ignorant of the theory may have tried 'money', which in turn may have been met with disdain.

Similar is the case with consumers issues too. Take the concept of 'perceptual threshold'. The threshold is the point at which a subject can pick up stimuli. Being constantly bombarded by numerous stimuli (adverts, commercials), the threshold of the receiver rises. This leads to something termed as 'perceptual adaptation' further leading to the subject ignoring stimuli which he may have otherwise responded to, if his threshhold had not been raised. Let me explain. The first ad. that a company releases may be humorous, so the subject stops and listens. For him to continously respond to 'humour', ads have to get funnier, else the subject ignores whatever ads are thrown at him.

Take Mentos, for example. The kid in classroom worked. It was 'cleverly funny'. People talked about it. The next one, with a kid at a concert bombed. People having raised their threshold balked at the the second commercial, finding it limp in its humour.

So you see, theory works. Now does that mean its all theory? Absolutely not!

At times, the theory needs to be tossed out and gut instinct must drive decision making. Remember the Sony Walkman? Akio Morita pushed ahead against resistance from inside Sony, persuading colleagues to bring out the Walkman in 1980. There was no market research. 'The public does not know what is possible,' he said. 'We do'. The rest is history.

So the verdict's clear. Its all about the 'optimal balance' act. Theory acceptance and application synergised with 'theory rejections'. Who ever can manage this tight rope walk succeeds out there.

NB. - Sandeep, thank you for your 'kind comments' :)

Hierarchy :


Sandy said…
To add to the above discussion;when to go with a gut feel as against market data;and about how receptive some clients (Are & Are not)...
We have been working on campaigns for the Pajero & Montero.Print ads,hoardings,TVC's, HM have been doing the same for donkeys ears.There has not been anything new except for new creatives coming out periodically(perceptual adaptation)
However we approached them with a whole new concept of targeting the customer base(which is niche,those who have arrived-no offense!and oh so many different parameters).It involves segmenting the customers,getting them more involved and engaged with the brand,offering them different things and ideas to try out.To put it simply- Direct marketing.
We see a tremendous success rate if this is adapted.There is no market specific data pertaining to this,though we did something similar for Toyota and it yielded 160% RoI.
But I guess some behemoth's like HM will remain cocooned in their own world and not open to newer possibilities.
Eve said…
I stumbled upon your blog today. And it's been added to 'my favourites' list. I'll be dropping by regularly and will pick your brains often...:)

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