Freud‘s Theory of Motivation: Freud assumed that the real psychological forces shaping people’s behavior are largely unconscious. Thus a person cannot fully understand his or her own motivations. If Linda Brown wants to purchase a laptop computer, she may describe her motive as wanting to work more efficiently when traveling. At a deeper level, she may be purchasing a computer to impress others. At a still deeper level, she may be buying the computer because it helps her feel smart and sophisticated.14



Motivation researchers collect “in-depth interviews” with a few dozen consumers to uncover deeper motives triggered by a product. They use various “projective techniques” to throw the ego off guard–techniques such as word association, sentence completion, picture interpretation, and role playing. Their research has produced interesting and occasionally bizarre hypotheses: Consumers resist prunes because prunes are wrinkled looking and remind people of old age, men smoke cigars as an adult version of thumb sucking, and women prefer vegetable shortening to animal fats because the latter arouse a sense of guilt over killing animals.


More recent practicing motivational researchers hold that each product is capable of arousing a unique set of motives in consumers. For example, whisky can draw someone who seeks social relaxation, or status, or fun. Therefore it is not surprising t hat different whisky brands have specialized in one of these three different appeals. Jan Callebaut calls this approach “motivational positioning.”

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