Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It's the height of Christmas shopping season - you don't need me to remind you that we're all consumers, right? Daily we're bombarded with thousands of messages from marketers and advertisers about products and brands. We're coming into the last weekend before Christmas, and the pace will be accelerating even more. Since I began typing this at 6 AM, I've already received 2 more emails - each from stores I shop at, announcing huge new sales coming up. And it's only 6:07!

Martin Lindstrom, a marketing guru and noted advisor to many Fortune 500 companies, has recently completed a study on neuromarketing, an intriguing marriage of marketing and science. He views it as a window into the human mind, unlocking what he calls Buyology - the subconscious thoughts, feelings, and desires that drive the purchasing decisions we make each and every day of our lives.

The book is filled with fascinating stories, insight, and understanding on how our unconscious minds drive our behavior. I'm diving into it to see how it fits into my supposition that church leaders need to understand the behavior of people as consumers because that's how people "see" the church - as a commodity.

Turns out, the world’s most successful brands, like Nike, Harley-Davidson and Guinness, stimulate the brain's emotional centres in a positive way and in a way that is similar to the stimulation of religion. They provoke a sense of community; they develop and promulgate rituals; they propose a common adversary. Apple succeeds because it poses as an enemy to its rival, Microsoft. His studies show that there’s an intriguing correlation between religion and powerful brands that make emotional bonds with us. fMRI scanning reveals that the same regions are activated in the brains of religious people when exposed to meaningful religious icons as those that light up in the brains of brand fans were exposed to iPods, Harley-Davidsons and Guinness.

What do you think?

1 comment:

g-force said...

I've heard similar insights concerning the relationship between musical styles and the regions of the brain that are impacted (for good or ill).

There is something to be said for the impact of visual cues or "branding" in worship- I'm not sure how to integrate the idea into nondenominational or nonliturgical settings without risking a worship war... but isn't that what the top-tier companies do? They saturate us with reminders of who they are. I'd love for people to come to our church and be saturated with reminders of who God is- through the ushers, the musicians, the artwork, the teachers/preachers, etc.

Looking forward to your "unpacking" the book! Take care,