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Mind Contagion and the Shopping Bug
    #1761113 - 07/29/03 11:12 PM (14 years, 9 months ago)

I came across this article and was wondering what you good people thought of it.

? Mind virus could give us shopping bug
Tracy McVeigh
Sunday March 26, 2000

It may prove to be the most successful new selling technique the capitalist world has ever known. The 'mind virus' is the latest form of consumer brainwashing.

A mix of psychology and Internet technology, the aim is to create social epidemics by feeding the right information, or virus, into someone's mind. Once implanted, it can make the most useless of gadgets seem essential, the most unnecessary accessory irresistible. It is a money-spinning dream.

That is the claim of psychologist Paul Marsden, who believes he can help businesses to trigger shopping crazes for their products.

It works like this. First you find out how the mind of your target consumer works by getting at his or her ideas and subconscious thoughts. Marsden's company, Brand Genetics, is pioneering this, not through market research but word association games on the Internet that can tell the psychologist everything he needs to know.

Once someone has been lured to play the games their 'mindsets' or reactions to certain words and ideas are laid bare. The next step is to sell on the information to an interested business that can use it to create a product that is branded and packaged in a way that will be irresistible to the target consumer.

Demand for the service has been so strong that Brand Genetics already has a multi-million pound turnover with clients including American Express, Land Rover, Lloyds TSB, Mars and Metz.

Successful brands can be used as starting points and simply cloned. 'That part is like genetic modification. Really the basics are that our minds are tuned to wake up at certain terms related to certain concepts. Sex, survival and status are the big three for all humans,' says Marsden.

The consumers' enthusiasm for something that fits into their own mindset so well can go on to create a social epidemic.

'People are drawn to mimic the behaviour of others. It is contagious,' said Marsden. 'I would get my psychology student to stand in the middle of Oxford Street and stare at the sky. Within minutes it can bring the whole of Oxford Street to a practical standstill as people cannot resist copying and will stop to stare at the sky too. Add to that how we will follow anyone with status or celebrity and the cues to creating a social epidemic are all there.' Marsden calls it 'positive mind virus'. Bizarrely, he used his expertise in the psychology of suicide to develop the technique.

'Suicide is contagious,' he explained. 'When the report of a suicide appears in a newspaper, especially the tabloids, the suicide rate leaps by an immediate 10 per cent, sometimes as much as 20 per cent.' This led him to the conclusion that planting the right seed in a person's mind could achieve any end.

Marsden offers a recent example. He invited business people to visit a website in exchange for being entered into a prize draw for a holiday. They were asked to guess the next mobile phone innovation. The entries were collected and the best 100 ideas passed to a mobile phone company. The company had tapped into expertise that would normally cost a fortune to gather. 'This is about using the Internet as a virtual consumer to find people's mindset,' he said.

The Consumers Association confirms that, as long as people are not deceived into playing the Internet word association games, then it is all above board.

You have been warned.

A link to Dr. Paul Marsden's web site http://www.viralculture.com/
I know very little about the theories of MEMEs but I ordered some books today on the subject to get my feet wet. Remarks are appreciated.


"I hate having to pick between the lesser of two evils. But I'm glad Obama was elected. McCain was another war monger. I'd rather deal with our country going into debt than trying to take on afghanistan...oh wait FUCK!" - Fungus_tao

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you say tomatoe

Registered: 06/13/03
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Re: Mind Contagion and the Shopping Bug [Re: AislingGheal]
    #1762257 - 07/30/03 11:09 AM (14 years, 9 months ago)

"Quid pro quo, Clarice . . ."  :devil: 

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Re: Mind Contagion and the Shopping Bug [Re: tomatoes]
    #1762438 - 07/30/03 12:52 PM (14 years, 9 months ago)

However, some people think for themselves, and consider what they are doing before spending money.. actually think about the input they are receiving, the intention of the person making the input, etc....
No mind contagion here.

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Re: Mind Contagion and the Shopping Bug [Re: fireworks_god]
    #1762488 - 07/30/03 01:15 PM (14 years, 9 months ago)

Yeah, one can see it as a new method by which the evil capitalists can manipulate the unsuspecting minds of the proletariat, or as yet another mechanism that the consumers can use to manipulate the producers, in order to make them obey their collective will.

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