Good Example Of Psychoanalysis And Branding Dissertation Proposal
Exploring the human inner feelings, latent desires and unconscious minds, how can marketers tap into specific types of customers’ unconscious psychology (psychoanalysis) for developing strong brands, attracting increased market share and implicitly more sales?
Humans’ inner feelings, emotions thoughts, motivations or desires have been the subject of psychoanalysis since the psychologist and philosopher Sigmund Freud developed his therapy of curing troubled individuals by making their unconscious conscious (Held, 2009). Freud’s ideas about an inner self that is based on primordial and latent desires have been incorporated in various fields of study, such as literature, arts, politics or marketing.
Exploring the relationship between customers’ psychology (focusing on the unconscious psychology) and brand building for increasing sales represents a significant aspect, relevant for helping marketers build their branding and marketing communications strategy. Knowing how to incorporate the customers’ unconscious psychology in the branding strategy would generate positive responses from the potential customers’ side. The proponent of research paper intends to analyze how the unconscious minds of a specific targeted group can translate in branding strategies for increasing the sales. For the researcher’s theoretical and practical knowledge, as a future entrepreneur, but also for marketing and branding fields of study, this research is highly important, as it reveals how science (psychoanalysis) can be used for generating profits, through branding strategies.
Edward L. Bernays, known as the father of public relations, was Freud’s nephew, who took his uncle’s ideas about the human primitive inner self that hides unconscious desires, emotions and feelings, and applied it to marketing communications for developing public relations campaigns in the beginning of the 20th century (“Happiness Machines”, 2002). The purpose of the public relations campaigns developed based on Freudian psychoanalysis foundations were meant to instill people to consumer, by appealing through the advertising messages to their subconscious desires (“Happiness Machines”, 2002).
The idea that irrational forces shape human behavior was inserted in various marketing communications campaigns, such as the one for Lucky Strike in 1929, which had the purpose of convincing women to smoke in public, as a sign of challenging male power (Held, 2009). The major goal of this campaign was to attract more consumers and to shape loyal customers, who would continue to smoke Lucky Strike, as a prove of their emancipation. Behind the idea of challenging the male power rests one of Freud’s basic psychodynamic ideas, respectively that from early childhood, females suffer of an inferiority complex because they do not possess a penis, also known as the castration complex (Jarvis, 2004).
Ever since, marketing communicators developed the idea that consumers do not know what they want, as they are unable to identify and recognize their latent needs and therefore, it is their responsibility to tell people what they want (Skålén, Fougère & Fellesson, 2008). In psychoanalysis the therapist helps the patient to cure by identifying his or her subconscious desires and needs (Jarvis, 2004). Similarly, it is considered that marketing communication, through the advertising messages and other modern means of communications available nowadays, explore the human inner psychic for identifying and giving them what they need, in order to cure their social frustrations. Humans have fantasies of power, beauty, sex – appeal that their rational mind does not express them and through advertising these unconscious desires transform humans in consumers, creating a market for products that people do not consciously, but unconsciously need (Bellinson, 2006).
Critics of advertising and marketing communication consider these strategies of telling people what they need (consciously or unconsciously) manipulative and unethical (Skålén, Fougère & Fellesson, 2008; Bellinson, 2006). Williamson (in Bellinson, 2006) suggests that the success of the advertising is guaranteed by how well the communicated messages appeal to the unconscious, going beyond the skeptical conscious mind.
Freudian dreams, fantasies, psychodynamic developmental complexes are all aspects of psychoanalysis that are integrated in past and current marketing communications, with the purpose of creating customers while emphasizing brands. Across time, marketing and its tools, public relations, advertising and more recently social media, have been criticized for using psychology in the interest of corporations for creating mass consumption and “sameness” among consumers (“Happiness Machines”, 2002; Bellinson, 2006).
The exploration of the unconscious minds of a few led to shaping the behaviors, the shopping behaviors of many, prepared to purchasing an image or a trend, not because they like it or need it, but because it is in vogue, hence, an acceptance of the social conformity, while renouncing to the individual ego (Lionellis, Fiscalining, Mann & Stern, 2014).
The research paper will investigate the relationship between psychoanalysis and consumers, relationship sustained through marketing processes. As the research question of the study focuses on explaining the creation of strong brands through the exploration of humans’ unconscious psychology, the research paper will need to define the brand concept, indicating the connection with psychoanalysis.
Branding is considered to be the sum of features (symbol, name, design, graphic representation, sign, etc.) that consumers create mentally for defining a specific product, based on which they enhance recognition that further contribute to the brand’s evaluation (Aaker, 1996). The mental associations that consumers create between the product and its features form abstract representations, which are connected with the inner or latent desires that describe human unconscious psychology (Glynn & Woodside, 2009).
The research paper will browse the existent literature for detailing on how marketers create brand awareness, brand loyalty or brand equity, aiming to connect these concepts with the consumers’ unconscious needs, thought to be satisfied through specific brands.
Research Aims and Objectives
Marketing and psychology are separated fields of study and practice, up to the point wherein they interact for analyzing the consumers’ psychology and influencing their purchasing behavior. The aim of this research is to detail on how marketers can incorporate psychoanalysis for determining the clients to act according to their marketing intentions. The research is also aimed at analyzing existing marketing communication campaigns that resulted in building strong brands by tapping into the psychologies of specifically targeted costumers I order to identify the models that they utilized for attaining their marketing purposes.
Based on the secondary research analysis, the objective of this research paper is to deploy a virtual research for promoting a fictive product, with the purpose of developing into a brand by exploring the unconscious desires of a group of targeted people.
The research will incorporate a study developed virtually, analyzing the inner, latent needs of a group of potential customers for a fictive product. The targeted group will be university and graduate students aged 20 – 25, men and women, with no restrictions to race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. The fictive product that will be tested will be a fancy gadget that will incorporate their school calendars, daily school schedule, which they can adapt with personal activities, and an application that will allow them to record the courses.
20 university and graduate students will be selected for this study. The research will develop virtually, using Skype as the communication channel between the researcher and the respondents. The research design that will be applied for this study is a mix of qualitative methods, combining the survey questionnaire, focus group and the participative observation for gathering information. There will be built a set of 20 questions, meant to assess the respondents’ inner feelings regarding the presented product. Previously to sending the survey questionnaires, the researcher will need to have the written consent of the selected participants, which to stipulate that they agree to take part in the research. In addition, the researcher will clearly describe the entire research process, explaining the respondents’ involvement in the study, mentioning at this step solely the theme of the research. Moreover, the researcher will also inform the participants about the confidentiality of the study, focusing on the ethical aspect of the research. After they send their written consent via email communication, the participants will be all convoked on a Skype virtual meeting, wherein the researcher will describe them the fictive product’s features. A presentation of the product will also need to be sent via email, together with the questionnaire survey, in order for the respondents to answer the survey questions focusing on the product’s features.
The data will be gathered by asking the respondents to send back the survey files via email, using the reply button, after they will have finished filing the questionnaires for sending the completed file to the researcher.
The questions for the questionnaire survey will be created based on the existent literature on psychoanalysis, marketing communications, branding and consumer behavior. Practically, the responses of the study participants should either confirm or refute the theories deployed in the literature review chapter.
For analyzing the respondent’s answer to the specifically designed questions, there will be used a qualitative analysis method, specifically the deductive approach, through which there will be grouped the answers to the questions provided, based on similarities and differences (Khosrowpor, 2000).
After all the questionnaire surveys will be gathered and interpreted by the researcher, a virtual focus group will also be developed. Again, using Skype, the respondents will be convoked for a virtual meeting. At this stage it will be very important that all the respondents that completed the questionnaire survey to also be present in the virtual Skype focus group, as their interventions and behaviors during the focus group will be analyzed and matched against the responses provided in the questionnaire survey. For this research method, the data will be gathered by recording the meeting, while during the focus group the researcher will take notes, writing down his observations. Again, the deductive approach will be used for interpreting the data collected during the focus group, while the participative observation will be used to confirm or question specific aspects of the focus group responses.
The fact that the focus group will be held virtually represents a limitation of the study, as this medium can be obtrusive for the communication, due to technical problems or lack of direct, face to face contact. Similarly, as the study will use a limited number of participants, its value and practicality will also be limited, offering, nevertheless, a relevant framework for the marketers and aspirant entrepreneurs to build strong brands using psychoanalysis studies to tap into consumers’ inner needs.
Aaker, D. (1996) Building strong brands. New York: Free Press.
Bellinson, R.L. (2006) Theory in culture: Toward a psychoanalytic criticism of advertising. Georgia: Georgia State University.
Glynn, M.S. & Woodside, A.G. (2009) Business-to-business brand management. London: JAI Press.
Happiness Machines (2002) Top Documentary Films. Retrieved from http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-century-of-the-self/.
Held, L. (2009) “Psychoanalysis shapes consumer culture” American Psychological Association. Vol. 40, no. 11, p. 32.
Jarvis, M. (2004) Psychodynamic psychology: Classical theory and contemporary research. Great Britain: Thomson Learning.
Khosrow-Pour, M. (2000) Challenges of information technology management in the 21st century. London: Idea Group Publishing.
Lionells, M., Fiscalini, J., Mann, C. & Stern, D.B. (2009) Handbook of interpersonal psychoanalysis. New Jersey: The Analytic Press, Inc.
Skålén, P. Fougère, M. & Fellesson, M. (2008) Marketing discourse: A critical perspective. New York: Routledge.