Kernels of Disappointment

So, one of the latest breakthrough products in our ongoing age of wonders is apparently “antiperspirant” that doubles as make-up for armpits, brought to us by the loving hand of the Unilever conglomerate:

The mode of invention for such marvels of appropriate technology is, of course, all the bold and costly research corporations conduct, allegedly on our behalf.

The real object of that research? Invention of new problems:

“Everyone is looking to consumer research for ideas,” [the industry expert] said. “It’s desperation time. Even companies that never were heavy into research, like the upscale department-store brands, are using it, looking for kernels of disappointment [they] can latch onto.” [Ad Age, March 5, 2013]

The Human Vector

zombie-woman So, you know how big business marketing is totalitarian and bound to invade every possible nook and niche of personal life?

Dig this latest report on how the professionals are busy analyzing how to manipulate the women whose personages make them the best vectors for conveying implanted corporate capitalist marketing messages to other women:

Marina Maher, which represents such brands as Procter & Gamble Co.’s Head & Shoulders and Cover Girl, Kimberly-Clark Corp.’s Poise and Kotex and Jameson Irish Wiskey, used a survey of more than 2,000 women to identify a group of 12% of women who have outsize influence on the purchase decisions of others.

These “Influence-Hers” have considerably larger social networks — both online and offline — totaling on average about 170 people they interact with regularly, compared with75 for a typical woman, said Marina Maher Managing Director Keith Hughes.

Besides having a larger social circle, they also tend to be more actively engaged with brands. The Influence-Hers are 38% more likely than typical women to “like” brands on Facebook or to provide personal information to brands they like on Facebook. They’re also 105% more likely to post positive experiences and 125% more likely to post negative experiences about brands online.

Creating something of an amplified echo chamber, the Influence-Hers can have a big impact on making Facebook marketing more effective, Mr. Hughes said. Their comments and interactions with brand wall posts are both more frequent and seen by more people, which in turn positively affects brands’ ranking in the algorithm that determines how well posts do in the “Top News” rankings of wall posts.

Turns out that these “[i]nfluential women are themselves more likely than other women to have their purchases influenced by everything from online reviews to expert endorsements.”  Hurray!

Of the female influencers, 83% rely on expert reviews very or fairly often; 84% rely on consumer reviews to make purchase decisions; 42% say they’re relying more in the past few years on expert reviews; and 59% are relying more on the reviews of other consumers to make decisions.

They’re also as much as 90% more likely, depending on the category, to value the input of endorsers than other women. So the Influence-Hers both consume and generate far more buzz than other women.

Of course, no one human being packs the buzz impact of Oprah among the buzz generators, who are 76% more likely to read a book endorsed by her than are women generally.

The Influence-Hers are also 55% more likely than other women to go to a restaurant after seeing it on TV and 91% more likely to buy something for her home after seeing it on a morning TV show.

The implications of the research include a need for marketers to look beyond broad Q Scores and favorability ratings when doling out endorsement dollars, Mr. Hughes said (and, not surprisingly, Marina Maher has a proprietary index for that).

“Marketers need to be more targeted and strategic in the way they’re targeting these women,” he said. Among other things, he said brands need to give these highly influential women more opportunities to create and aggregate reviews either on Facebook or websites and to provide them with relevant information they can pass along — both branded and unbranded.

They used to talk about women’s liberation, didn’t they?

Sexism in Corporate Marketing

The same institutional logic that builds intentional racism into big business marketing also builds in intentional sexism. See “Racism in Corporate Marketing” posted below.

The only difference is in the roles portrayed. African-Americans almost always appear in advertising and sponsored shows as athletes, musicians, buffoons, and/or sidekicks. Women appear as mothers, wives, servants, and/or carbon-based blow-up-doll life forms.

The effects on the culture are the same: Subtle and light, yet widely dominant suppression of the chances for further progress in deflating sexist ideology.

I think there are more loopholes and exceptions to sexism than to racism within the marketing juggernaut. Nonetheless, I am convinced that further vanquishment of our legacy of racism and sexism (and also of other bio-fictitious fibs like nationalism) will not occur until we also begin to assail big business marketing and the overclass its serves.