I saw the following clickbait on Psychology Today and had to see what I’d find: How the Science of Love Can Make You a Smarter Marketer. I knew it was going to be what Bill Hicks is talking about here:
Over the past few decades, social scientists have made extraordinary advances in understanding the dynamics of human relationships. We’ve become a lot smarter at predicting whether people will hit it off, at identifying couples with the best chances of staying together, and at spotting marriages headed for divorce. To the experts in the field, love is rarely an accident.
So what’s that got to do with marketing? In a word: everything.
It’s because the same neural circuits that light up when we connect with another person also fire when we find ourselves thinking about a favorite brand. The psychological experience of love is grounded in a common physiological language.
Yet surprisingly, few of the insights psychologists have uncovered about the science of love have made their way to the field of marketing.
Well, it was a specific, identifiable group of businesses who decided looking at marketing profiles was how we’d find relationships.
It doesn’t receive enough attention that marketing people are fucking with our emotions full-time on a daily basis, just to get rich. That very much includes our love lives. “Nothing is sacred” is basically what defines contemporary culture.
1. We Love What Makes Us Grow
As humans, we have a psychological need to enhance our skills and improve our competence. When we click with someone new, we increase our interpersonal resources, gain new perspectives and enhance our identity.
In short, we grow.
The self-expansion we experience in a new relationship is often exhilarating and intense, especially at the beginning, when every interaction has the potential for revealing something new about your partner’s talents, their history and their dreams.
But as relationships mature, opportunities for mutual growth become harder to come by. Which is why marriages turn dull and friendships fade.
In the absence of novelty, we experience boredom.
Interestingly, the same is true for our connection with brands. Brain imaging studies reveal that consumers experience greater emotional arousal when thinking about newly formed brand relationships than for long-standing ones. It’s because newer brand relationships spark many of the same reactions as a blossoming romance: surprise, fascination, curiosity.
Inevitably, however, the excitement fades. We adapt. And suddenly we experience an itch to try something new.
How do you revive a tired relationship? Marriage therapists recommend finding new adventures that partners can engage in together. Sharing in novel experiences can be a powerful tool for preventing adaption and restoring some of the elusive magic that was there when a couple first met.
The lesson: The older the relationship, the harder you need to work to generate excitement. Even the most successful brands can often benefit from a well-timed refresh to reinvigorate consumer interest.
He’s conflating novelty and personal growth, first of all.
After the novelty has worn off, and your partner is going through something stressful or working on something ambitious, you might not get to have fun all the time. Not using that as an excuse to wreck your partner’s life is an opportunity for personal growth.
The degree of our current need for novelty is unprecedented in human history. How can someone who can’t sit for 5 minutes in a waiting room handle a long-term relationship?
I hate the use of “we” here. “We” feel an itch to try someone new. No, not everybody has a mindset of constantly trying to replace their partner with someone else. For some people, it’s a relief that dating is over. That’s bad for business.
Making “excitement” the most important thing guarantees that people will go through a series of relationships and fuck them up once the novelty wears off, because Marketing Guy told them that love = excitement. With half of marriages ending in divorce, lots of people simply haven’t spent much time around older couples who stayed married.
Is it really marriage therapists who recommend “adventures?” At some point, you’re fucking old and what’s really nice to do together is walk around the block in the evening. I guess they should be getting back on OkCupid because they’ve done that before. “Adventure” is a word you read in advertisements for hotels where you sit around drinking by the pool.
It seems like “elusive magic” when two people connect, but that’s only because the efforts of Marketing Guy have made people’s mindsets totally incompatible.
2. We Love What Moves Us Toward Our Ideal-Self
Not all romantic relationships are equally rewarding. Some partners help us achieve our intrinsic goals while others stifle them….
Research shows that the best relationships are the ones in which partners help one another clarify their plans, offer assistance and actively encourage. When partners serve as allies, their connection deepens and their relationship grows.
The same can be said for the relationship between a brand and its customers. The moment we view a brand as a partner in the quest to achieve our ideal-self, we become attached.
The lesson: Creating strong brand connections involves more than simply offering great products. Showing a broader commitment to helping your audience reach their ideal self can naturally enhance their brand loyalty.
No, people should absolutely not feel like they’re growing personally just by purchasing something. The only sense in which that’s good is that it makes money for some people.
What’s revealing here is the fact that marketers already think of themselves as your boyfriend or girlfriend. They support my highest aspirations!
3. We Love What Makes Us Feel Accepted
There are times, however, when focusing exclusively on the consumer ideal can backfire, especially when that ideal is too distant from the current reality.
Consider the success of Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, which generated billions and became a viral sensation by purposely eschewing professional models in favor of ordinary people. By highlighting customers’ reality instead of their ideal, Dove was able to demonstrate that it understands its audience in a way that its competitors don’t.
According to a 2011 paper published in the Journal of Marketing, when the images a brand projects are too far ahead of its customers, the reaction is not always positive. Consumers tend to infer that what the brand is selling is out of their reach and consequently irrelevant.
The lesson: Perfection is not always appealing. For a brand to be successful, consumers must view it as relatable first.
In politics, this directly translates to liberal attitudes toward leftists. Liberals think human dignity is just too ambitious for right now. “We started calling you African-Americans. Now what do you want?” Liberals have to make anti-racism something achievable by liberals, so it counts to get pats on the back from other liberals.
4. Satisfaction Is Not Love
Being satisfied with your marriage is not the same thing as being passionately in love. The same can be said for brand relationships. You might be perfectly satisfied with your Samsung refrigerator but that doesn’t mean you’re going to rave about it to all your friends.
But there’s an important distinction between these relationships. While the personal and financial cost of getting a divorce can keep a lackluster marriage going for years, the consequences to ending a brand relationship are relatively trivial.
Which is one reason customer satisfaction can be a surprisingly poor predictor of long-term loyalty. When the opportunities for defection are high and the barriers to switching are low, satisfaction alone is rarely enough to sustain customer interest.
What does predict long-term loyalty? Emotional attachment.
When we’re emotionally attached to a brand, we come to view it as part of our personal identity. We overlook appealing alternatives. And we become willing to sacrifice valuable resources, like time, money and attention, just as we would in a committed romantic relationship.
The lesson: The more competition you face, the more vital emotional connections become. Satisfaction alone is rarely enough to keep a relationship going, especially when switching is easy.
I’d say that being satisfied with your marriage after 10 years is the same as being passionately in love, because that’s more than enough time to go through difficult shit together.
The reasons that “satisfaction alone is rarely enough to sustain customer interest” is the reason we can’t date, anymore. Because people are subconsciously treating each other like disposable consumer objects, like the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Marketing Guy taught them to think like that.
I don’t think switching should be too easy. It’s a serious decision that affects other people. If you can just ghost people, we’ll always be dealing with childishness.
It’s hard to date because this kind of consumerism is so deeply embedded in the way people think. Their assumptions about relationships are damaging to relationships, causing a vicious cycle of suffering. Motivated consumers spend more money! Great success!