Che!

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Ernesto GuevaraErnesto ‘Che’ Guevara,  but known simply as Che or el Che, was a man of many professions including a doctor, banker, revolutionary, economist, diplomat and theorist. It has been argued that it was the many aspects of his life that meant he has become the international  icon that he is today (The Marxism of Che Guevara).

A little background on the man in question…

Born in Argentina, he went on to become a leader in the Cuban revolution encouraged by poverty he witnessed whilst travelling through South America. He joined other prominent figures such as Raul Castro and his brother Fidel Castro with the aim to overthrow  the dictator of Cuba, Fulgencio Batista.

Post- revolution he continued to play a vital role in Cuban development,  instigating a nationwide literacy campaign, working to promote Cuban Socialism and on land re-distribution throughout the country.

This revolutionary like many before him and since is still revered and respected many years after his death. Influential activists such as Nelson Mandella on Che Guevara said his life is “an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom” (Hey-che.com). He remains a national hero in Cuba with his face on  the $3 peso and with many school chlidren throughout the country starting each day with a pledge to “Be like Che” (BBC News, 2007).

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In his home country he is also honoured with many high schools bearing his name and many Che museums throughout the country including in his hometown (Che Guevara Museum, Alta Gracia). In 2008 a 12ft bronze statue was unveiled in the city of his birth, Rosario, (seen below) which was made from 75,000 bronze keys donated by Argentines from all over the world. This fact alone indicates continued respect amoungt the Argentine people.

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So why has Che grown to be such a legend when his fellow revolutionaries like Fidel Castro have not recieved such reverence?

There are arguably a number of reasons why this legend lives on 45 years after his assasination, but the most significant in my opinion lies in the biographies and memoirs he wrote throughout his life. Although his life was short in some ways, within it there were many different phases where his views and behaviour changed drastically, loving tender doctor to cold-blooded killing machine. His ability to write about his experiences meant that many years later people can seek inspiration from his thoughts and gain a clearer understanding about what made him the man he came to be. His writings have since influenced a large number of documentaries, and films (Che!, Che Part One, Che Part Two). The Motorcycle Diaries, now a New York Times bestseller,  is an account he wrote after a solo trip around South America based on memoirs he had written at the time, which personally I found to be a very interesting read.

Another reason I think he is so widely loved is to many he himself represents the “underdog” (Schuman & Harding, 1963). I think this is something that many people can relate to and seek inspiration from. Despite being a lifelong sufferer of acute asthma, he excelled in many sports including cycling, rugby, swimming and football. His experiences of class struggles, poverty and fighting for independence is something that many people worldwide can relate to and commend (especially when you consuder his background and the fact he wasn’t even from Cuba). The things he achieved were done not out of poverty but out of a need to see change and his actions changed the lives of many South Americans.

Finally and arguably the most significant influence on the legend of Che is the image below.

Guerrillero Heroico

Guerrillero Heroico which simply translates as ‘Heroic Guerrilla Fighter’  was taken by Alberto Korda (Alberto Diaz Guitterez) in 1960. Today it has been argued by Maryland Institute College of Art to be the ‘most famous picture in the world’ (BBC News, 2001).

This photograph along with many other factors has meant that Che in many ways has become a brand. This image has become a symbol and like many brand logos has come to represent something in itself  – revolution, freedom and courage (BBC News, 2007). Frantz Fanon sums this up quite nicely when he said Che was  “the world symbol of the possibilities of one man” (Hey-Che.com). Supporting this man in whatever aspect helps to establish and convey your core cultural values; three being expected social behaviours, one of which based on truth (Hofstede & Bond, 1988).

che bikini

Variations of this image can now be seen on a huge selection of merchandise including t-shirts, hats, posters, tattoos, and even (scarily) bikinis.

There is even an online shop dedicated specifically to Che-related items (TheCheStore.com). It is ironic that a well known communist activist would contribute to the materialistic capitalist consumer culture that he himself was so against (Forbes.com). Personally I would love to hear his opinions on this trend that has developed since his death, as it seems anyone who has read his memoirs or has taken an interest in his life would realise how opposed to this consumer behaviour he would be. It seems that many people who ‘support’ Che Guevara have absolutely no idea why they should or much about the man in question. This rebellious trend is emphasized by a saying in Argentina: “Tengo una remera del Che, y no sé por qué,” which translates roughly to “I have a Che T-shirt, and I don’t know why” (Askmen.com).

This feeds into my own personal opinions about the fact most people wearing the shirt are simply doing it because it is now ‘cool’ and has absolutely no base in their own political beliefs. The act of buying Che -related items instead is simply to convey your desired self-image to others around you and alter people’s perceptions of you – a form of self promotion (Tetlock & Manstead, 1985).

One particular moment that emphasizes this is a personal experience of mine whilst sat on a train listening to two teenagers talking about one of their new “Fidel Castro t-shirts”….

Almost predictiably based on the fact Che was known to smoke cigars,  cigarette companies have also tried to cash in on this consumer trend. In many ways he is the perfect embassador for cigarettes as for many he embodies rebellion, and smoking cigarettes is today seen a such a rebellious act.

che-guevara-cigarettes

However as with many legends it is very easy to get swept away with idealistic fantasies about what this man was like. Many aspects of Che’s life are conveniently forgotten by many, and it is hard to establish how much of an icon he really was. Although loved by many , Che is not viewed so favourably by everyone.

Jacobo Machover was an exiled author who opposed Che and portrays him as a ruthless executioner (Cubanet.org).  It is also believed by some that in later life this once idealistic revolutionary became a “man full of hatred” who executed many who never stood trial  (Armando Vallandres, Human Rights Foundation). He is still hated by many in Cuban-American community and referred to as “the butcher of La Cabana.”

To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary … these procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.”  (Imdb.com, Che Guevara – blogspot. co uk).

So it is very unclear about how much Ernesto Che Guevara should be looked to as a role model. I think in many ways nostalgia is having a huge effect on consumer behaviour towards Che – remembering the best bits and conveniently forgetting the bad (Holbrook, 1993). Revolutionaries although inspiring in their ideals are also by nature in many cases guilty of terrible crimes in order to achieve their aims. Whether you agree with his actions and ideals or not, it is remarkable to me that one picture and one man could be selling t-shirts in Topshop 45 years after his death.

Finally I will leave you with a quote from the man himself: “Better to die standing, than to live on your knees”  (Biography.com)

The beautiful people….

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The beautiful people they’re everywhere, in our magazines, on our televisions, trying to sell us things in the street.

Not only do we perceive them to be more intelligent than less attractive  people (Kanazaw & Kovar, 2004), but these opinions are formed from a very early age (Dion & Berscheid, 1974). Those judged to be attractive are often perceived to be more socially skilful and some findings suggest that this might actually be true (Goldman & Lewis, 1977). and to have  greater normative accuracy – meaning they possess positive personality traits. (Lorenzo, Biesanz & Human, 2010).

Not only do people want to be judged as attractive themselves to take advantage of these social benefits, but would also quite like to be associated with these attractive people.  There are actually specific websites dedicated to help people achieving this (beautifulpeople.com) which provides “Online dating for beautiful people only.”

Traditionally dating sites may have been only used by those who are unattractive and/or socially less skilful  But these websites have done a lot with the intention to alter this negative perception. One way they do this is by showing pictures of attractive members on the homepage, as a way of encouraging consumers to pay large amounts of money to sign up and have the opportunity to interact to these people.

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Dating websites have a unique selling point reminding consumers of a need for love and companionship and claiming they provide it. This is one of our most basic needs which many single people would like to fulfil and it could be argued that these websites are an exploitation of these people – promising true love and realistically just stealing their hard earned cash.

Many advertisements use success stories as a way of appealing to sceptical consumers, but nobody ever hears from the the thousands of dissatisfied customers do they? A recent news article concluded that: “To date, there is no compelling evidence any online dating matching algorithm actually works.(BBC News, 2012)

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So what is the real life cost of future (possible) happiness?

Although some deals can be obtained through other websites, personally I would say the prices are quite high:

  • Match.com (£29.99 per month)
  • eHarmony (£34.95 per month)
  • Dating Direct  (£29.99 per month.)

(Is it any wonder dating websites annual revenue has reached and estimated $2billion? (DatingSitesReviews.com)

These websites deal with a very unique  type of marketing – the art of selling yourself. Like make-up brands and perfume companies, it makes sense that consumers would become loyal to dating websites if they allow the consumer to portray themselves in a positive and rewarding way.

Apart from being expensive and exploitative I personally am not a fan of  dating websites because of the lack of accuracy that is possible. Of course you’re going to put up the best pictures. You may conveniently leave out that you lost your job or live with your mother. It is understandable that consumers at least exaggerate to maximise their options, fulfilling social image needs and the need for choices. But there is a very thin line between conveying your best qualities and simply lying to gain the intended response.

Companies are not allowed to use false advertising for their own gains – so why should people? Assertions about false advertising are supported by review websites and online blogs – a huge estimated 81% of people lie about their height, age or weight online (DatingSitesReviews.com).

But I pose the question – is it really ethical to allow people to lie to others online? Can people be forgiven for a slight exaggeration?

Even so, whatever your opinion on the matter dating websites from a business perspective have had huge successes in recent years. People generally do care about what people think, even if it’s just a little bit or just a few select people. Whether it’s based in fact or not I think some people believe that coming home with a hot new girlfriend may raise their social status, as well as fulfilling their own needs for love and companionship. Consumers may think that people will respect them more  if they are in a happy relationship or it will alter people’s perceptions of them.

This notion although simplistic works for products – consumers acquire  new cars and expensive watches in the hope of conveying something about themselves. Is it really so inconceivable that even people who do not especially want a partner may make efforts to get one because of the benefits that it will provide to them and to say something about themselves?

I would love to hear other opinions on this matter. Do you really think it is possible to find true love online? Do you agree that dating websites are exploiting people’s basic needs or have you had positive real-life experiences of them?

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Veggies look away now…

Just look at it, isn’t it beautiful?

bacon sandwhich

Seen here in one of the most common ways to see this product – a bacon sarnie. Possibly enjoyed with a rich coffee with eggs, sausages and other breakfast delights? I’m hungry just thinking about it..

This meat that was once seen as a breakfast item has leapt from the breakfast table and into almost every other area of our lives. A simple Google search for ‘Bacon’ will back up this statement with a staggering 177 million results. When you compare this to a search for ‘sausage’ which only returns 87.2 million results, its hard to argue against it’s dominance. Of course some of the ‘bacon’ results will include articles related to famous people such as Francis Bacon and Kevin Bacon, but this does not account for the difference of approximately 90 million articles.

 

This meat can not be enjoyed by practicing Muslims and Jews as well as vegetarians, which makes it’s popularity even more impressive.Despite these marketing disadvantages, bacon seems to be more popular than ever. In the year leading up to August 2012 total sales of refrigerated bacon in the United States were an estimated $2.5 billion, a rise of 3.5% with the previous year (Symphony IRI Group ). In this year bacon was estimated to have reached two-thirds of US households (Tyson Foods) which is a truly scary statistic. The term ‘bacon mania’ has been coined to describe this phenomenon seen in many parts of the US and Canada and research indicates bacon sales are increasing (Meat Trade News Daily).

So I ask you….where has this love of Bacon come from?

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One possible reason for bacon’s popularity is centred on the fact it is unhealthy/bad for you. Some generations had drugs, some had cigarettes. What do we have? Bacon.

Eating processed meats (such as bacon) has been associated with increased health risks of heart disease and diabetes (Harvard School of Public Health, 2010) and therefore eating this product could be seen as an act of rebellion in a health conscious world. This is most probably linked to needs to convey a rebellious streak in our personality, and therefore a certain level of individuality. Research also shows that as humans we are much more likely to prefer food if it is seen as unhealthy (Raghanathan, Naylor & Hoyer, 2006).

This popularity is also linked to an old intuitive need to eat high calorie food when available to us for survival assurances (Maslow, 1943). This however is uneccessary in food plenty Western world, even though physiologically the need is still present.

Another possible reason for the bacon loving is that it is seen by many Americans citizens as an American product. Even in early American Literature the prevalence of Bacon was commented upon (Ebenezer Cooke, The Sot-Weed Factor). If this is the case then cultural and social norms arguably will be having a huge effect on sales.

Although some bacon is enjoyed in the traditional way, as far as I can see it has somehow managed the ultimate brand extension, and other products out there should take note. Bacon related products now include: Ice cream sundaesmintspopcorn, jamsalt, and mayonnaise.

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It’s influence has even been felt in the alcohol market with the creation of Bakon Vodka and bacon infused vodka featuring in St Patricks Day Celebrations (New York Times, 2009)

It has even reached inedible products with plasters, clothing, soaps, perfumes, air fresheners and even toothpaste all available to bacon-loving consumers, many of which can be seen at Bacon Addicts. com).

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This love for bacon has come far in recent years and demand for the product shows no signs of stopping. Unfortunately the future of the product is uncertain with worldwide feed costs soaring (Guardian, 2012) which I think may be the only thing that can stop this bacon flavoured avalanche.

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Keep calm and…. Buy some more!

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As you are probably aware in recent years the UK has been subject to many petrol shortages. A petrol crisis or the mere threat of one has induced nationwide panic buying until in many cases stocks have run dry. Although all over the media consumers were being discouraged from this behaviour thousands of people still queued, sometimes for hours to buy one of the most unglamourous products in the world – petrol.

Although is not instantly obvious, this is a good example of how the media and news reports especially can be used as an indirect method for advertising. There are some serious ethical issues involved as Emergency services could potentially be unable to help people because of this panic buying behaviour. This is why I would suggest that the media has a certain responsibility to cover stories and frame messages in a way that does not encourage dangerous consumer behaviour.

Message framing has found to have a huge effect on many different behaviours, safety signs can carry different effectiveness based on many factors including: colour size shape, but most importantly graphics and text included (Jensen 2012).

If most consumers thought rationally about this issue I am sure that this frenzied panic buying would not have happened.  By employing their cool system of decision making many would have acknowledged the fact this was a very minor threat and that panicking would only do more harm (Metcalfe& Mischel, 1999). I propose however that consumers were employing their hot system and as a result reacting to news bulletins, word of mouth and visual cues like the one above.

In this panic buying situation consumers are also shown to purchase more than they usually would because of their mental state (Martin, 1983). This obviously only adds to the problem and leads to….

So how can this be avoided?

One way would be to develop theories on attribute framing (Krishnamurthy, Karter & Blair, 2001). This effects the evaluation of an object and by altering the perceived need for it (petrol in this example), would hopefully reduce panic behaviours to a minimum.

Whilst in this given situation it was seen by many as a bad idea, some companies would quite happily encourage consumers to panic buy their products.

As seen above , some companies tried to recreate this panic buying in order to increase sales. This is based on commodity theory (Brock, 1968), where the scarcity of a product makes it’s perceived value increase. This is a clever marketing strategy which is based on current events and a consumer’s current state, although I cant say Im sure it would have the same effect.

Either way it is very important to remember guys : There is absolutely NO need to panic buy.

And if you are going to panic buy, do it with something cool like beer  🙂

Rhod Gilbert wants you to visit Wales – but what about the locals?

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According to recent figures tourism contributes a huge £96.7 billion toward economy in England (Deloitte, 2009). This compared to the much smaller contribution to Wales’s economy of £6.2 billion it is understandable why the Welsh government wants to address this issue.

Although now the research is dated, historically Welsh residents showed negative perceptions of tourism (Sheldon et al, 1984).  Some of these included stereo-typing of visitors, perceptions of negative social impact, cultural exchange and the ecological impact that tourism had. Those that lived there since birth and native Welsh speakers were found to be especially sensitive to tourism and it’s perceived negative impacts.

Although whether these views are still held in Wales is unclear, it is certainly an issue worth thinking about. If locals hold negative perceptions of the effects tourism then this could potentially make advertising campaigns less effective (Tosun, 2002). It has therefore been suggested that when implementing a tourism campaign it should work closely with the local community to outline the positive impact it could have on economy, social life and diversity of the area in question.

But how to go about promoting a place anyway?

Promoting products has been going on for many years, and can fulfil any number of needs from basic nutritional to higher needs such as status and security.  More recently services advertising has been effective with many companies such as Legoland and  Disneyworld, promoting the benefits of the experience. This usually fulfils social/self-esteem/status needs of the individual (Maslow).

Addressing experiential needs, some advertising focuses on a particular place in the world. Tourism choices are affected by promotion, education, culture, family (Gabor & Contiu, 2012) so theoretically effective promotion of a place should increase tourism.

Place image is a key factor of research carried out prior to designing and implementing a tourism campaign. This provides a clear indicator of the mental image currently held and therefore what aspects need to be targeted (Selby & Morgan, 1996)

A consumer’s current perceptions can be measured using Kelly’s repertory grid and advertising can then aim to alter any negative perceptions that the consumer may have eg. overestimation of price. Left unaltered these can have negative effects on consumer behaviour. Company advertising has addressed this issue quite well – not by including prices but by simply stating that it costs ‘less thank you think.’  http://www.aferry.co.uk/press-21-may-2012.htm

Advertising can also aim differentiate a place from others similar products/places. A government study that found consumers had difficulty distinguishing between New Hampshire with other places. This lack of differentiation meant that preferences were hard to create as consumers had no reason to prefer one place over another. By addressing this New Hampshire should see their tourism industry increase.

Some tourism campaigns even adopt their own logo such as Wales, New Hampshire (above) and Indonesia and Britain (below).

Although logos on a commercial sense have shown decreasing effectiveness in recent years (Wall Street Journal, 2002; Christian Science Monitor, 2004) almost all advertising campaigns I have seen whilst doing research include one. This is perhaps an example of how companies should pay closer attention to research in order to spend their time money and efforts more effectively.

To conclude an effective tourism advertising campaign requires a few special ingredients to be effective:

–      Work closely with the local community to outline benefits of tourism

–      Accurate data on current perceptions of the place

–      Advertising to alter any negative perceptions such as being too expensive or being very similar to other places.

*Research however indicates it does not in fact need to include a logo.

Stats Appreciation 101

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I know , I know. Statistics isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. They’re not exactly my idea of heaven either. But there is no denying that from a marketing perspective they are pretty influential. When I was younger I do not remember a heavy emphasis on statistics and science in advertising but in recent years it seems to have made quite an entrance, one of the main areas being an unlikely one : the beauty business.

This advert below from 1985 looks very dated now but is effective because it is very concise with great brand awareness throughout.

The first on-screen use comes at just four seconds in and a total of four brand mentions from the voice-over (may have overdone it slightly).

When you compare this with a recent L’Oreal advert it is obvious that although they are about the same length, things have changed drastically. The primary premise is the same (girl with beautiful hair endorsing shampoo) but in the recent one this isn’t even her real hair – a fact I did not pick up on when I first saw this advert. Sneaky advertising indeed. Here the ‘Celebrity’ Cheryl Cole provides expert appeal, whereas the Timotei made use of the ‘common man’ appeal.

The main difference is that now instead of claiming the product will give you great hair, there seems to be a drive towards backing up these claims with science. This makes sense when you consider the large numbers of competitors in the beauty industry and being worth an estimated between £15-£18bn in the UK (UK Retail Futures, 2011). The possible push towards science in advertising may be to combat the huge amount of competition in this sector.On Boot’s website just in the Shampoo & Conditioner section alone there are 558 product offerings from 54 different brands – huge choice indeed.

The information within this L’Oreal advert is vague as it does not give any details of the survey of 2983 women: who are they, are they employees, what were they asked about, who funded the research?

The second group of statistics presented doesn’t even make sense as 86% of 210 women is in fact 180.6. This is not the first time I have seen misleading statistics used in advertising, but it is something that you will see  and are unlikely to question. Although this is vague, other companies have gone one step further resulting in withdrawal of their claims/ adverts.

A recent example of this is Reebok Easytone trainers launched in 2008. The campaign claimed in their advertising that by simply wearing the trainers your bum got 28% more workout compared with other trainers.

Adverts like this were withdrawn when Federal Trade Commission (FTC) were investigating claims of false advertising. Reebok were found guilty and banned from repeating these claims, agreeing to pay out $25 million in refunds to consumers. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) also deemed the claims misleading and noted that the sample size of the study was very small and ‘not adequate to support the claims’.

Although in this case the company in question got caught out this does not mean that the sales of the shoes did not make the false claim worthwhile. In 2010 the ‘toning’ industry claims to have made approximately $1bn. This means that a $25million refund in comparison may seem like a good trade.

The question is however: If you have heard about this case how likely are you buy Reebok products in future? Is it really worth it to destroy your companies reputation for the sake of £XXX million pounds now?

As as short-term plan it may seem like a good idea. It could be argued however that this has significantly damaged  Reebok’s reputation, one that has building since the name change in 1958.

On another note, I’m sure Adidas are praying that people don’t realise they are also part of the same company or they may also suffer negative effects. Personally I think it serves them right – spread the word! And if you really want a toned bum maybe just go the gym?

Smelltastic!

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The company Mood Media – heard of them? Recognise the logo? Didn’t think so!

This Canadian company founded in 2008 provide the perfect ‘consumer environment’  by making tailored adjustments to the audio and smells within each store. It is no longer good enough to use eye-catching signs and friendly employees, every aspect of the shopping experience has an effect on the consumer.

When looking at the consumer environment it is understandable to focus on visual stimuli because it is so obviously relevant. I however put it to you that it is the things that we don’t see that could influence the consumer in a more subtle way; smells and music. There is a lot of data to suggest that atmospheric effects can have a huge effect on consumers both within the store and their evaluations of the experience later.

A nice smelling odour will encourage gamblers to gamble more money (Hirsch, 1995) but this is not universal as another ambient smell had no effect. Some evidence proposes that merely the presence of smell can effect evaluations made by the consumer and their shopping behaviours (Spangenberg et al,1996). The addition of a smell meant that consumers were more likely to underestimate the time spent there and therefore may spend more time browsing. This could be used as an advantage on two levels – consumers may be more likely to buy something and also from an appearance perspective the store will look busier and more popular.

One of the most outstanding retailers that uses smell to it’s advantage is Subway.

It is a stong appetising smell which you will smell before even entering the store with the help of fans that push the smell outside. This smell has had a huge effect which has even led to many Facebook appreciation groups. This is just one example with over 45k people liking it:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dear-Subway-your-store-smells-amazing/354534185751?fref=ts

But what about places that do not naturally have a smell such as HMV or The Hilton?  Research shows that as long as the smell is percieved to be associated with the store type then it will have a positive effect on consumers. A good example of this would be coffee and a bookshop. If however the smell is viewed as pleasant but unassociated it will have negative effects.

Looking at the effect of music within a store Hue et al (1997) found that if music was pleasurable it altered perceived waiting time and also positively effects interactions between consumer and company employee (Dube  et al, 1995).  From a sales perspective Classical music encourages increased sales on wine when played throughout the store (Areni & Kim, 1993). This could possibly attributed to mental associations between this genre of music with wealth and sophistication. This is arguably an example of priming as it effects the mood and expectations of the consumer.

It must also be noted that younger and older consumers have different musical in-store preferences which could be used to segment effectively when making audio choices (Yalch & Spangberg, 1990)

The realisations of how smell and audio can significantly effect consumers has led to the creation of new companies such Mood Media offering services to use this data to customise the shopping environment effectively.

Although quite a new company they already work in 30 different countries with over 800 retail chains and have many global clients including HMV, Volkswagen, H&M, Hilton and ING. Based on the wealth of evidence, some of which mentioned here, this demand for their services seems understandable and a smart business move. Just last year McDonald employed Mood Media to produce customised music for their stores in Poland, a place where there are already a lot of sensory stimuli.  I propose that because of this the effects of sound will be much reduced. What do you think?