Every marketer knows it’s getting harder and harder to reach elusive consumers with advertising. After all, they’re not eagerly awaiting your message. Content creating critics that they’ve become, they’re too busy tweeting, blogging, posting updates, searching, @replying, commenting, sharing and joining communities to pay attention to an ad.
But there’s good news in all of this. It’s making those pesky consumers tired. So tired, in fact, that by the end of the day they’re too wasted, spent, and “depleted” to ward off your intrusion. Better yet if they spend what little energy they have left engaging with your message, they’ll actually develop more certain opinions. Should those opinions be positive, you’ve hit the jackpot; your consumer will practically be shopping the next day. After a good night’s sleep, of course.
I know what you’re thinking. “Don’t I want to engage with my consumers or community when they’re awake and paying attention?” Not according to Derek D. Rucker. Derek’s an assistant professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He teaches advertising strategy, and he’s done research.
Derek and his team of academics had a hypothesis that went like this.
If consumers who were depleted actually did choose to devote their precious resources to attending to an advertising message, they might become more certain of their attitude toward a product.
And just as you may have guessed by now, the team’s research actually proved the initial logic that inspired it.
When individuals are worn out, engaging in subsequent tasks requires more effort and is more straining than if they were at the top of their game. Depleted, compared to non-depleted, consumers feel that they have invested even more of their resources in subsequent tasks. As a result of perceiving to have invested more effort into processing an advertisement, depleted consumers feel more certain of the attitude they form. Furthermore, being more certain of a favorable attitude leads to a greater inclination to buy the product.
Of course the ad has to be brilliant to get their compromised attention. And the attitude it induces will need to be positive for it to work (otherwise the certainty from that enormous effort will be negative certainty). But this is promising, don’t you agree? It’s the kind of thinking that can really rejuvenate the relevance and influence of advertising.
This isn’t research for the sake of research either. It offers up real actionable tactics. Ready for this? Derek suggests that we should “bear in mind that consumers are likely to be more depleted in the evening as opposed to the morning.” Media planners, I hope you’re listening. Run those ads in the evening.
Another useful piece of advice: “Make sure depleted consumers can be engaged. One possible solution is to use integrated marketing efforts such as broadcast media to create enough interest for consumers to visit a website, even in a depleted state, where consumers could then work through information in a self-paced fashion.” Yes, you read that right, integrated marketing efforts. I wish I’d thought of that.
Of course even as you read an insight that inspiring you’re saying, “Wait a minute. Isn’t there something contradictory about sending a “depleted” consumer to a yet another website after a long hard day of online activity?” You have a point. But let me remind you that this is research we’re talking about.
It’s mind-bending breakthroughs like this that make me proud to work in this business. I hope the academics that know so much about our industry not only come up with more of these innovative projects; they take the time to teach them to their students. It will be great for the future of advertising and communication. Don’t you think?
Finally, if you like what you see here, consider subscribing via RSS or email. And if you’re interested in hearing more, either in a personal presentation or via email, you can contact me personally. Access the contact form in the nav bar above. Thanks for reading. And as always, comments are welcome.
Image: copyright stars.alive
Thanks to Ad Age for the inspiration.