Skip to content

Breaking Down The Blink

June 7, 2009

Blake Gantney

Please the video below to listen to a clip from Malcolm Gladwell’s blink then read my post to uncover it’s power.

I hope you enjoyed this short audio clip from one of my favorite books. This post will be just 1 on many posts that uncover the marketing power behind the different social psychology and sociology studies presented and analyzed by Malcolm Gladwell. This clip talks about how industry standard, market research testing, can fail. My goal for this post is that not only do you see and understand why just asking consumers what they think doesn’t always provide you with an accurate representation of reality, but that we also understand how and what to do to better avoid this in marketing.

Kenna, the musician referred to in the clip, is struggling to get radio stations to play his music since their research shows that consumers SAY they don’t like it. But, is that really true? The problem arises when we are asked to explain things that are processed in our subconscious. As Gladwell also explains in his book, the sub-conscience lays behind the “locked door”.  When we start to try and explain things that happening behind the “lock door” we can’t always trust the answers.  If you want more proof of this I greatly encourage you to read the book blink. In the book Gladwell provides example after example of where this is true.

The more important part of this is understanding the marketing implications that it holds. Before we go any further, let me say clearly that I am NOT discounting all marketing reach that is conducted, I am merely pointing out marketing research that deals with issues that come from deep within our subconscious might not always paint the clearest picture of reality.  Now lets look at how to use this information to better market to Gen Y consumers.

My theory is this: To get a more clear representation of the consumers true believes they must be exposed to the source much more then just one time.  It’s the familiarity effect. We as humans have the tendency to resist change or something that is different from our normal perception, but as we are exposed to something more and more and it becomes familiar to us, we then begin to except and even embrace it.  It takes our conscience mind time to catch up to our sub-conscience and this needs to be taken into consideration when conducting and analyzing marketing research.

A personal example I can remember of this effect was when the US Army changed their tag line. For as long as I could remember their tag line was “Be All You Can Be”, then about a year and a half ago they changed over to their current tag line “There is Strong, Then There is Army Strong”.  I distinctly remember seeing that commercial for the first time and absolutely hated their new tag line. I thought to my self why in the hell would they change it. I resisted the change at first, but now after seeing and hearing it many more times I have come to like it, and honestly now think it is a much more powerful tag line then their previous one. It took my conscience mind at least 10 to 20 exposures to catch up to my sub-conscience.  I not saying that 10 to 20 is some kind of magic number to the amount of exposures you would need, but the point is that it takes more then one.

Blake Gantney
Join me on Twitter: 
Owner/CEO of Kamoria (
Director of Marketing, Fitness Quest 10 (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: