Food for thought
Seduction is as old as humankind. The Bible describes Eve’s temptation, but not only people practise the art of seduction or allow themselves to be tempted. In the animal and plant kingdoms too, countless examples of seduction can be observed; some more successful than others. Birds sing or dance beautifully, male spiders offer gifts to their intended partner, and flowers tempt insects with delightful smells, colours and nectar. Appearance matters when it comes to seduction; that much is clear. Of course it is not the only thing that matters, but first impressions do count. Centuries ago Dutch poet Jacob Cats quipped ‘Een oud vel vrijt niet wel’, translated as ‘Rimpled skin does not make love very well’. He was right: after all, don’t
we easily discard a shrivelled apple or potato? At first, intrinsic values do not come into seduction – we save that for later. It is about first impressions: behaviour, appearance, smell, or a combination of these factors. One thing is certain: our behaviour is generally not rational; especially not when it comes to seduction. Everything revolves around patterns of expectation and perceptions. Can we influence those? Yes, but then we should definitely not react too rationally. Or rather, manipulate feelings rationally. Fortunately, enough is now known about the workings of the brain to make that possible. Response?
Read on… Thinking vs feeling, the role division in our brains. Do not underestimate emotion nor overestimate reason! A question of perception, everything revolves around patterns of expectation. The allure of a low price. On the demand side there is not much to win with it. Appearance and aroma. Our eyes and nose play an important role in determining our opinion on many issues. BioFach, make an advance appointment now. Heineken. A large business pays attention to the smallest details when it comes to seduction. Alluring shapes. We are building a new website. Relationships: always personal. We handle products and brands in the same way as people – we project characteristics on them.
Thinking vs feeling This newsletter is about seduction and therefore also about being seduced. Seduction is as old as humankind. What makes us so susceptible to temptation? Our brain is roughly made up of three segments, each with its own history. The hypothalamus, our ‘primitive’ brain dates back some 500 million years. It is this part of the human brain that we use to make many of our decisions; especially the important ones. This is the part of the brain that guides us, much more than the other parts of the brain. Of course there is also the prefrontal cortex, a brain that has possibly only existed for around 100,000 years. This helps us with logical reasoning, adding up, constructing words and making choices. Between the primitive brain and the new brain, a third section has nestled – the limbic system. This is the seat of our feelings; where for example we distinguish between sympathy and antipathy. Our primitive brain, however, has the most experience. Therefore it is better able to make snap decisions, after which it activates our modern, logical brain (the prefrontal cortex) to justify and rationalise the decision that has been made. In
other words, our oldest, most primitive brain controls the other brain lobes. And it is this part of the brain that is prone to temptation, and to addiction – temptation in overdrive. Everyone recognises it – we do things we know to be wrong, but we still do them. Afterwards we always have an excuse: in those circumstances... etcetera. People who wish to sell something rationally must therefore – strange as it seems – appeal to the feelings rather than the thoughts of the buyer. Outstanding experts in packaging and retail are masters of this. They create an atmosphere that appeals to the primitive brain. Colours, images and – to a lesser extent important – text, but also shapes and smells. They who are best able to manipulate the feelings of the buyer are most successful. Giving in to temptation – nothing is as seductive as that. Response?
A question of perception The human brain continually connects perceptions with conclusions. We carry out a large proportion of our daily activities on auto pilot. In other words, we are hardly aware of what we are doing. A new driver will arrive exhausted after a trip of some 60 miles, whereas an experienced driver travels such distances so routinely, that he can barely remember having driven all that way afterwards. The new driver will be able to recount his hellish journey in lively detail, whereas the experienced driver will be more likely to tell you which songs or radio programmes he listened to along the way. A downy peach, beautifully lilac and yellow tinted, soft to touch and yet completely flawless, can make us salivate. In contrast, a hairy apple does not appeal to us, no matter how fresh and green it may be, because it does not match our pattern of expectation. The likelihood is, we will find the fruit repellent. Everything revolves around perceptions and patterns of
expectation. Perceptions are based on factual observations; we see that hairy apple, feel the soft peel. Our patterns of expectation do not match that image – triggering alarm bells. A bright red and green apple or a pinky yellow, downy peach give our brain a positive signal. This gives us a good feeling and attracts us to it. This is why an image of beautiful young people smiling or laughing works better than an image without people or with people who are deemed unattractive. Attraction is driven by perceptions, which in turn can be manipulated by those who know how. Response?
The allure of a low price
A product can only succeed if it is able to stand out from the competition – even if it is on price alone. It is often tempting – especially for producers – to offer temporary discounts. Take advantage now; temporary discount of 50%. The motive? Winning new customers. However, in practice we know that the generous offer is mostly taken up by... the existing customer base. Whilst bargain hunters who buy the product form slightly negative preconceptions – something so cheap almost cannot be of good quality, or otherwise it must normally be overpriced compared with its actual worth. The percentage of new customers who go on to become regulars, is often very small, which means that this type of promotion carries a high cost. Why, then, is this such a well used approach? Supermarkets use it to stimulate sales of many other products that carry a larger margin. Large producers of branded goods use it to squeeze out the competition. Other vendors use it innocently, because they believe it will enable them to enter new markets, which – it has to be said – they will manage to do, but for a high price. Of all seduction techniques, the weapon of a low price is one of the least effective, but it is used much more readily than many other ones. Response?
Appearance and aroma
Humans are not rational beings – as this newsletter clearly exudes. We can think rationally, but that does not mean that our actions are altogether sober… quite the opposite, in fact. Marketeer Paul Postma once said that the old marketing model AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) can still be upheld, but in reverse – Action, Desire, Interest, Attention. We do something, feel satisfied, seek the right justifications for it and only then we accurately reflect on the consequences of our action. We are incredibly sensitive for appearances. However, the promises made by appearances must of course be supported by (especially) smell, weight and touch and, in many cases, sound. The crunch of an apple or a potato crisp sounds appealing to the ears, but the crunch of a grasshopper being eaten is less appealing to most people. Packaging that gives the impression that it its contents are strong, is counterproductive as soon as the contents are flimsy. Our brains determine in advance what we should expect, and this is a piece of knowledge that is of great importance to, in particular, packaging specialists and other shapers. Response?
Loyalty People are open for temptation. Very open, even. But they do not actively seek it, usually. After all, people are creatures of habit. They do not sit around waiting for new stimuli. For the simple reason that new considerations have to be weighed up – is prospect A better than prospect B? In what sense? Based on what? People do not like to choose, so they opt for that which is familiar. It is well known in marketing that it is much cheaper to keep customers than it is to (have to) gain new ones. Loyalty has to be won, partly through consistency. But too much consistency can have the wrong effect. Those who do not offer timely renewal, can get left behind. The loyal supporters will then age, or even die. At that stage, it is too late to respond. So renew then? Very risky! Coca Cola changed the recipe of its cola after tests showed that not everyone deemed the drink sweet enough. The ‘improved’ formula led to a spontaneous outcry and a veritable buyers’ strike. The change of recipe was reversed just in time to limit the damage. Then line extensions, or expanding the range with a different appearance, weight, taste and aroma, as long as it remains ‘family’ of other parts of the same range. The more ‘fans’ a brand or product is able to attract, the stronger the chance of success and the more intense the relationship will be. The flip side of this prize, however, is that one disappointing quality of but one of the products can taint the entire range. In short: being loyal is actually rather alluring. It prevents us having to continually make (and justify) new choices and it reduces the likelihood of disappointment. Yet it does not mean we can leave everything unchanged. Renewal and refinement, but not too conspicuous – helps us to maintain the relationship. A subtle example of this is Heineken (see page 6 of this newsletter). Response? From 12-15 February 2014 the Nuremberg organic trade fair takes place, featuring the latest developments in the organic sector. Since countless models, film stars and celebrities have converted to organic foods and cosmetics, the sales of both product groups have risen by large percentages. Could there be a causal connection? Or is it the other way around and does this group of beautiful men and women choose organic products because of their increasing popularity? Either which way, organic is ‘hot’ and the 25th BioFach is expecting more visitors and stallholders than ever before. Among the some 2400 (!) stallholders you will find Berrico at Hall 4/4 – 209 D (as always part of the collective Canadian Pavilion). These will be very busy days, both for you and for us. It is therefore worth making an advance appointment if you wish to meet us at the BioFach in Nuremberg. Send us an email with your preferred day and time and we’ll keep a slot free for you! Response?
Heineken Heineken is a world renowned brand of beer. In many countries it is a true premium lager, whereas in other countries it as a less exclusive reputation. Undoubtedly, though, it is a global brand with appeal.
Freddy Heineken also concerned himself with the labels of the beer brand, for those were often updated in the course of time, in order to keep making a consistent impression in changing times. For such a large brand, each such change is a massive undertaking, but that never stopped Freddy Heineken, nor the company. Quite the opposite. An important change in the look of the brand was devised and implemented by Freddy Heineken himself. The name ‘Heineken’ has three e’s in it, which had been conventionally shaped, with a horizontal line halfway down the letter. Heineken ordained that those lines should slant upwards. He thought them to be happier, as if they were laughing. Heineken was right – the three altered letters made the image of the brand more dynamic, more upbeat. They are still in use today.
Alfred (Freddy) Heineken himself guarded the brand’s reputation like a Cerberus and saw it as a top priority for the brand to maintain a consistent profile. In that respect he went very far – no detail was unimportant. From own experience the author of this newsletter can report that Mr Heineken even rejected the image of a driver of a beer truck. The photo was due to be published in a relation magazine for buyers of the beer. But, according to Freddy Heineken, the man was ‘too attractive to be real’. But… he was truly a driver for the brewery itself, as undoubtedly many of the magazine’s readers would have known. Nonetheless in the eyes Freddy Heineken was a man who mastered the art of of the director he was not believable as such, and seduction; it is how he led his company to success. therefore the image had to be replaced with another. Response?
Alluring shapes: our new website
Every temptation is based on communication, and that involves all of our senses. So also, when it comes to the art of seduction. Why else would perfume have been invented, is whispering more tender than shouting, or is stroking more intimate than striking or hitting? The sense that is probably the most sensitive to seduction is our sight. Our eyes (and our nose) are most sensitive to first impressions. Appearances and smells speak directly to our brains. Women have known this longer and better than men, but the principle is in fact as old as humankind itself. The eye wants to be satisfied. It is sensitive to beauty in shapes and colours. Berrico’s website has a rather complex visual form. The home page features a wide-ranging collection of images. The result is that we do not clearly and concisely communicate what we are doing and - more importantly - what is important to you and other associates. This is why we have developed a new visual language - with symbolisms that imbue the content and aims of the site with meaning, even without text. We have twelve segments that give you a better picture of what we can do for you. The new site will be more accessible, more informative and easier to navigate. And hopefully: more tempting to browse! Unfortunately the site is not quite finished yet... A little longer. We will let you know when it is ready. Response?
Relationships: always personal Relationships between people are often sealed with a marriage. In most cases that is not a rational decision, but one based on emotions. What makes it cognitive, is that the relationship is formally sealed. A relationship between businesses is surely different, more formal? In practice this is not always so. After all, these are still relationships between people, which in most cases cannot be called very formal (or cognitive). This is even stronger when we consider our relationships with brands. The human brain does not distinguish between things/brands and people. We attribute a character and characteristics to brands. Think about cars, carbonated or other drinks, chocolates and cigarettes. A car brand such as BMW represents a completely different lifestyle to Mercedes Benz or Toyota; such as a Coca-Cola drinker is usually a different type to lovers of expensive whiskies. In other words, your brand or product has human traits in the eyes of third parties. It is sympathetic or responsible, exclusive or healthy, sexy or familiar and homely. What is tricky is that, to a certain extent, you have no control over that reputation. Of course marketing plays an important part, as does the packaging, and the distribution channels, but at the end of the day the market and the market alone determines the image. There are countless examples of products that were aimed at, for example, a young target audience but appealed to an older audience. Products that were aimed at the rich and famous, but were bought by wannabes. It cannot be directed. If you have managed to match a target audience and a reputation like for like, then you ought to be congratulated. But if you have not managed it, be aware of the character of your brand or product. Translate it to people â€“ the more clearly, the better. Magazine publishers are a good example â€“ they produce a magazine in which the urban Joe recognises himself or a concept that appeals to rural Sally. For each relationship is personal, also when we are talking about relationships between people and brands. Response?
Invisible in the background (but firmly holding the reigns): Astrid Witteveen, or by her married name:
Mrs. G.J. Snijders-Witteveen As the heading suggests, Astrid is not someone who likes the limelight. Yet she is not unimportant within the Berrico team. From Monday to Friday she is usually the first point of contact for the public and the spider in the rather large financial-administrative web. A web that has become a lot simpler and less timeconsuming thanks to automated processes than, for example, during her internship at Medicins sans Frontiers in Amsterdam, where the accounting was entirely done using paper, pen and carbon paper. Born and raised in the southern IJsselmeerpolders (nowadays Swifterbant), strong spirit was needed – just like the ‘polder’ pioneers – to escape from the polder as soon as possible, as far as Astrid was concerned! For four years she cycled 12.5 miles to and from Kampen in order to complete her secondary schooling. And alas if you bought a bus pass before the snow made the cycle paths impassable. You were made of sterner stuff!
investment bank, also in the capital and at a comfortable distance from the bare, dull polder. From collections and credits she developed via credit analysis to deputy head of the credit department. Her star was rising, until such time that her now husband – who worked for the same bank – made his move. She discovered a more important goal in her life – family. Within four years three boys entered Astrid’s life, and although the boys did not come with manuals, she has managed to raise them to become fine young men. Nonetheless Astrid hankered for a life outside the family and home, and bit by bit the 300% mother managed to build up another life too. From several part time admin jobs to a diverse role within an export marketing agency, Astrid eventually ended up with Berrico. And this role suits her just fine. With her academic background in languages, economics and marketing, Astrid is a perfect match for Berrico. And that polder? Well, she has been living back here happily for sixteen years now, after husband dearest accepted a job with a cooperative bank in Lelystad. Response?
Astrid, now 45, gained her love of numbers from Medicins sans Frontiers to an international French
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We welcome comments and suggestions. We produce this newsletter to inform and inspire you and we are grateful for your input. Do you have some news that may be of interest to our other contacts? Tell us about it and perhaps we can include it on our website or in this newsletter. Do you have criticism? Let us know and we will endeavour to take it into account. Do you have a piece of news that may be suitable to include in this newsletter? Let us know! We welcome feedback! References. For this publication the following sources were consulted: Anatomie van de verleiding (Anatomy of Seduction), Paul Postma, Adfo Groep 2013. How we decide, Jonah Lehrer, Houghton Miffling Harcourt Publishing, 2009.