Written on May 23, 2007 by Ianna Contardo in Strategic marketing

Ianna contardo
The method combines neurobiology, psychoanalysis, linguistics, art theory and other social sciences to clarify cognitive mental models that guide consumer behavior. The great advantage consists in exploring not just the analytical, more rational part of the brain but also to finally listen to the “right” side of the brain where emotions, feelings and fears are nested. By adding this dimension marketers may finally achieve intensity, texture or depth in the responses from consumers. They may also organize them as to provide greater clarity in the decision making process in terms of “what it is” that makes their products more attractive, more familiar, more balanced, more enjoyable, more outdated and more universal.

This last point is also quite fundamental in the process of internationalization whereby companies must address the importance of both economic and cultural models of entering new markets: whether by following the localization or the globalization models. Even the hybrid “glocal” model in general follows a more global approach which adopts similar assumptions guiding the previous two. Nowadays we have, however, a great number of examples that support the view that meaning of brands are co-created or co-constructed by both companies and consumers. This implies that, consumers’ personal and cultural histories and sense of self are important in the process and thus cannot be simply dismissed by the firm trying to impose a successful product which has worked in another context. Universal positioning thus requires first the formulation of a commercial strategy that founds its principles on basic, common emotions and feelings, i.e. basic archetypes and metaphors and second fosters local research to identify ideas, activities and images that are locally associated with the universal elements of the product’s core concept. In this way the firm will capture both the benefit of internationalizing its products with the benefit to adapt them to new cultural, emotional and meaningful contexts .
Obviously, for some purposes, say industrial oil, a survey, a closed-ended interview or a focus group may be sufficient to explore the product’s benefits or disadvantages. For categories of products or services though that are not 100% rational – such as financial services, drugs or foods, luxury products or entertainment – where the emotional component is quite high, ZMET is a fantastic and reliable approach which allows marketing managers to free themselves from their own emotional constraints and to embark in an adventure where mind, brain and behavior meet with the less known.
ZMET also provides managers with a new basis for being simply creative, and by forcing managers to explore in new ways the mind of consumers, managers will have to re-evaluate their own premises, thinking models or attitudes towards the market . Ultimately, strategic decisions are made by human beings; people who try to better understand the needs of other people. If those decisions are made though by people who ignore the less transparent or less accessible part of the brain, the results will be less and less certain and less and less accurate. By engaging more truly and deeply with the “touchy” side of things – emotions at large – managers will be (re)-discovering a communication channel that can enable them to consolidate market and brand strategies. Thus as Pink says, ZMET technique in strategic marketing may represent, in its effort to decode the hieroglyphics etched on the walls of our minds, the new economy’s Rosetta Stone . And if managers have been lost in translation perhaps this new tool may finally give them an alternative source for competitive advantage in a world where the clash of civilizations and cultures is becoming of ever greater importance.


Dara MacCaba June 14, 2007 - 8:33 am

Ianna, completely agree with you. We are using ZMET and other psychological tools in Asia; it is amazing to discover how well these indirect methods help us to sidestep cultural obstacles and enable our global clients to make worldwide brand relevant in each of the local markets. Dara

ianna June 21, 2007 - 11:56 am

Hello Dara, and thank you for your comments. I would be sincerely interested to find out more (if none of the info is confidential) on how your org uses ZMET.in any event I trust that we can keep bringing “good news” to this blog and would like to take the opportunity to say hello to all internauts who would like to continue visiting the page!
best regards

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