I am not surprised at your surprise

'Check out the responses to the question “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable view of the U.S.?” from various countries. Isn’t it surprising that Indians view the US favorably (76% positive) — even though the US government is at least mildly antagonistic towards India — and that the US government pours in billions of dollars worth of aid to Pakistan and yet only 16% of Pakistanis hold a favorable view of the US — and perhaps a majority hold it in deep contempt? Even more surprising: French, Israelis, Canadians, Britishers, Mexicans, Germans, Japanese, Spaniards, Chinese, Russians — all are less favorable towards the US than are Indians.'

I am not surprised at Atanu being surprised. Because I teach Consumer Behaviour, which explores the 'Whys' to consumption. Its similar to the 'Whys' to almost anything. Why contempt? Why admiration?

Most judgements are driven by emotions. And all of those emotions emanate from within the individual, dictated by his personal point of view. And that point of view is almost always oblivious to other points of view. More so if the other point of view is a differing one. Atanu's loathing for the previous Bush government, let me guess, comes from the way he viewed the war, the Bush foreign policy and similar such initiatives. I guess Atanu didn't take too kindly to these initiatives. The contrast is me. I found them perfectly legitimate. Therefore the admiration. I loathe Socialism. So I don't take too kindly to Barack Obama.

Indians' admiration for America is an interesting study. First and foremost, the study (that Atanu quotes) sample chosen would have been skewed in favour of the Indian urban middle class. This class has tasted the joys of liberalisation, which in many ways it equates with the American way of life. Two, America's robust response to terrorism is again widely admired. Now, this a contrast to what the Pakistanis feel. America's war on terrorism is interpreted as a war on Muslims. Guess how that would resonate in Pakistan? Now you know why they loathe America. It doesn't matter a bit that America's aid to Pakistan is amongst the biggest, as compared to what's given to other countries. Of course, the Americans aren't too much into charity. The disbursement of all this money is part of what's called Realpolitik.

Realpolitik exists in the realm of the rational. Loathing is extreme emotion.

The less said about the Europeans, the better. What would Socialist Europe (afforded by all the plundering they did in Africa, Asia and South America) feel about Capitalist America? Capitalist America that's more powerful? Envy of course. Does envy breed rabid reactions? Haven't you heard of envy towards prosperous Business brands? Is Microsoft hated? You bet.

Nothing's surprising anymore, once you tap into the emotion that precedes behaviour. Its imperative for marketers to know how to mine these emotions to get their brands to connect. With consumers. Marketers must never forget that only point of view a consumer holds dear, is his very own. The only emotion that's relevant, is that wells up within. Empathy is the key in understanding, deciphering and connecting with this emotion. That in turn is what seals the deal.

I mean, the sale.


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