Monday, November 12, 2007

The Persuaders

In The Persuaders, Dr. Rapaille is trying to crack the code on luxury. Dr. Rapaille shares his theory of the “reptilian hot button” that can cause a person to buy a product associated with a particular idea. Dr. Rapaille utilizes a focus group and a three step process to try to find the underlying “code” for luxury. Dr. Rapaille begins his process by spending an hour with the focus group in order to find out how luxury is defined according to their experiences and beliefs. The group throws out words, statements, and stories to share their definition of luxury. Dr. Rapaille has tried this approach before so he is not too concerned with the answers that his subjects are supplying. He cares more about what the results in steps two and three will show.

The next step Dr. Rapaille follows focuses on the emotions that his focus group members reveal. He tells his subjects to create a story centered around luxury that they would tell a five year-old from a different planet. Just when his subjects thought they had figured out the Dr. Rapaille’s research method, they are taken aback and become confused. Dr. Rapaille’s subjects begin to think he is crazy and taking them for a practical joke.

The final stage of Dr. Rapaille’s research focuses on the primal urges of his subjects. His subjects return from a break to find that there are no chairs to sit on, only pillows. Everyone is asked to sit on the floor and lay down. Dr. Rapaille turns the lights off and asks his subjects to relax. When the lights come back on, his subjects are asked to write words and thoughts that they would use to describe luxury. Dr. Rapaille uses this lights out method to encourage the fresh thought process. Since his subjects feel like they have just woken up from a nap, memories arise that they once associated with luxury long ago.

Dr. Rapaille’s methods are interesting and unique. He takes the use of a focus group to the next level by utilizing his lights out method and storytelling method. As a marketer, I would use his techniques to further understand why young people make expensive purchasing decisions on designer products. It is always interesting to see young girls wearing the latest designer products in Texas. Even when the heat in Texas is at its highest, young girls are still walking around in the latest Prada sweater or BCBG coat. It is always interesting to note that many people do not know why they act the way do. Most people do not know what they associate the word luxury with or why they associate it with those products or services. It would be fascinating to research why young people are so infatuated with designer brands even if the clothing or accessories do not fit their geographical locations. I would use Dr. Rapaille’s methods to find out what words, images, or experiences my peers associate with name brands and the potential benefits of purchasing name brand items. Dr. Rapaille’s techniques would help uncover many hidden interests and underlying reasons for purchase decisions.

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