One of the things I love about reading Robert Cialdini is that pretty much every time I pick up one of his books and open to a page, I find a new insight.
In Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, the authors talk about two types of advertising – Individualistic vs. Collectivistic.
Individualism is an orientation that assigns highest priority to the preferences and rights of the individual. Collectivism is an orientation that assigns highest priority to the preferences and rights of the group.
It's the age old "I" vs. "We" approach. Cialdini points out that the United States, United Kingdom and others in Western Europe tend to be more individualistic, while those in Asia, South America, Africa and Eastern Europe tend to be more collectivistic.
What I found fascinating was the research they did on products people tend to share with other people, like air conditioning and toothpaste.
I would have expected that products shared by others would naturally do better with collectivistic messages – "Share your breath-freshening experience." And in the South Korean test group the collectivistic message indeed did better. But in the U.S., the individualistic message "Treat yourself to a breath freshening experience." did the best.
It would be easy to oversimplify and say all individualistic messages will work better in the U.S., but I don't think that's the case. I do think it depends on the product, but also on the target consumer you are trying to talk to.
I've noticed that ads that target moms sometimes try to go the individualistic route. In the recent Motrin Moms debacle, there is a line in the video that says "But what about me?"
I've seen this backfire many times. Remember, individualism assigns the highest priority to the preferences and rights of the individual. This may run counter to "mom mode" where it's the preferences and rights of the group (i.e. mom and kids or entire family) that take preference.
If you are targeting moms, I have three suggestions for you.
- Use the collective approach and talk about benefit to mom and kids.
- if you want to speak to her about needs of a mom, use the collective "we" along with other mothers.
- If you want to speak to moms as individuals, why do you have to identify her as a mom? Why can't you speak to her just as a woman?
Here are three examples:
By using Motrin – you and your baby will be happier – your baby gets more quality time next to you, you get a pain-free back. ("We" – focused on benefit to mom and baby)
Baby-wearing moms unite to push a new trend – Daddy-wearing babies. Until then, Motrin is the best friend baby-wearing moms have. ("We" – focused on benefit of "moms" as a group)
As a woman, you're carrying a lot on your shoulders, and back. Get relief with Motrin. ("I" – focused on individual as woman, not as a "mom")
Take a look at your marketing to mom messages. Test the "we" approach vs. the "I" approach. Let me know which works better for you.