Tag Archives: texting

Technology Takes Toll on Consumer Psyche

By Marc Dresner, IIR
Last week at my nephew’s Little League game I saw two
pedestrians nearly collide in the adjacent park.
Neither of them was watching where they were going because
they were engrossed in their mobiles. (One of them was pushing a stroller. Not
relevant. I just found it amusing.)
The incident reminded me of an anecdote consumer
psychologist and author Kit Yarrow shared at a speech I attended awhile back:
She compared browsing the Farmer’s Market to riding the bumper cars at an
amusement park.
Comical, irritating, a bit sad, perhaps, nonetheless our fixation
with our devices seems harmless enough.
Kit Yarrow
But Yarrow, a Golden Gate University professor and author of
Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How We Shop and Buy,’ thinks otherwise.
Yarrow says the increasing mediation of rapidly advancing technology
in our lives is having a deep and profound psychological impact on people.
It’s not about what we’re doing with technology, she notes,
but what technology is doing to us.
People today think
‘People today think
differently,’ Yarrow said.
Specifically, our attention spans are shorter, we’re less
focused but we’re more adept multitaskers, and we require an increasingly
higher level of novelty and stimulation.
Our brains, Yarrow said, are also being programmed to perceive
better visually and to prefer ‘visual snippets.’
This explains why photo links receive 85% more clicks than
text and why Pinterest ‘pins’ are 100 times more viral than tweets, she noted.
What’s more, Yarrow says our increasing penchant for visuals
lends itself to heuristics we use to make decisions.
Accordingly, images, symbols, and even colors have
unprecedented communication potency. For example, waitresses wearing red
receive 16-24% higher tips from men.
Technology has also made us more autonomous, but left us
feeling more isolated.
We’re more ‘connected’ than ever, we
don’t ‘connect’
Yarrow points out that although we’re more ‘connected’ than
ever, we don’t ‘connect’ with people they way we did in the past.

We may have more ‘friends’ thanks to social media, but the
nature and quality of our relationships and interactions with people, by and
large, have suffered as a result of technological mediation.
For example, more and more of our communication occurs digitally
and not face-to-face today. The former, a pretty recent development, is
displacing the preferred mode of human communication for thousands of years!
We don’t even use our phones to talk as much anymore; we
use them to text one another.
Consider the implications when as much as 93% of face-to-face
communication may be non-verbal (body language and vocal intonation).
What is being lost and how is it affecting us?
‘We are responding to shifts with our limbic brain
that we don’t understand.’
‘We are responding to shifts with our limbic brain that we
don’t understand,’ Yarrow said.
Something as seemingly insignificant as a dearth of eye contact
engenders feelings of rejection and invisibility, which Yarrow says has among
other things contributed to a rise in disrespectful, rude and rancorous
So, the fact that our heads are always glued to our devices isn’t
just causing us to occasionally bump into one another; it’s actually affecting how
we are socialized.
‘We’ve had the same
basic human needs since caveman days’the need to belong to a community for
safety, security and procreation, the need to love and be loved, the need to
have a purpose in life, etc.,’ Yarrow explained.
‘But as the world has changed, the ways we go about getting
those needs satisfied has also changed. Our brains are malleable. Our
psychology adjusts,’ she said.
‘Our brains are malleable. Our psychology adjusts.’
Due to a variety of factors’uncertainty, the pace of change,
lack of a sense of ‘tribal security,’ etc.’Yarrow says our collective anxiety
as a society is up.
‘We’re in a near state of fight-or-flight. We act like a
bear is chasing us,’ she said.
And trust has been declining precipitously with each
generation. Yarrow noted Gen Y is particularly wary and guarded.
The net of these intertwined shifts, according to Yarrow:
- We have powerful new cravings
for human connection.
- We acquire perceptions, process
information and make decisions in new ways.
- Trust disappointments color

There are, of course, marketing implications here, but I’ve got research on the brain.

I cannot help
but wonder how what we’ll see and hear at The Market Research Event next week ‘techniques, innovations,
insights’will exploit and/or address these trends.

Looking forward to seeing you in Boca Raton!

Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.

Talking with 2.5 Million Teen/20-sums: DoSomething.org COO Has Tips

Old Crank Hijacks Blog to Carp About “Kids These Days”

By Marc Dresner
As I sat down to write this post I had two depressing thoughts
and I figured I might as well drag you down with me:

1. I am
officially ‘old.’ (And if you’re 26 years of age or over, sorry, but so are you.)

2. I am
out of touch. (And if you spend a lot of time talking about ‘youth culture,’ might
be you’re out of touch, too.)

That first fun fact came courtesy of
DoSomething.org under a section on its website dubbed ‘Old People’ that
unapologetically states: ‘If you’re 26+ we
consider you officially ‘old.’ This is an org for young people.’
Aria Finger
source: Crain’s New York

(Well I didn’t want to join your stupid org anyway! Pbbt’)

The second bit I deduced’but only after chasing some
teenagers off my lawn’from a comment made by DoSomething.org’s COO, Aria
Finger, who suggested that old people who talk about young people in sweeping
generalizations probably don’t understand them as well as they think.
‘You hear people generalizing a
lot. ‘Oh, young people like to share,’ and so on,’ said Finger. ‘We need to
remember that young people are diverse.’

people’ isn’t some homogenous panacea.’
”Young people’ isn’t some homogenous panacea,’ she added.

She’s right, of course. And we’re
all guilty of it.

Marketers and researchers, in
particular, love to label and wrap blanket statements around entire
generational cohorts.
It’s how we make sense of (and
market to) the world. Show me a statistician who doesn’t dehumanize people for
a living.
Now, no one is saying that
there isn’t any truth (or utility, for that matter) to statements like ‘Young
people like to share,’ etc.
But we probably make or accept them more often than
is advisable for the sake of expedience.

Teenagers are usually on the cutting edge of technology
We all know, for example, that Gen Z’ er, Post-Millennials?
Gen Next? ‘What are we calling these kids we’re generalizing about anyway?!?
Gen TBD?
Whatever they are, they’re ‘digital natives,’ right?
The teens are into all the cutting edge technology, right?
Wrong. Finger says that’s a big misconception.
Well, ok, but they sure seem tech-savvy. (Help me with my DVR, please!)
I mean, what about their smartphones? All the kids
have smartphones. We didn’t have smartphones when I went to high school…
And most middle-class teens in the U.S. today still
don’t, Finger noted, which is why SMS text remains such a powerful communication
And just where does she get her information, you ask?
Why from DoSomething.org’s 2.5 million members ages
25 and under, of course.

 ‘We can send a text to 1.6 million young
people and get up to 70,000 responses in minutes.’
‘We can send a text to 1.6 million young people and
get up to 70,000 responses in a matter of minutes,’ Finger told The Research Insighter.
any out-of-touch oldies, DoSomething is a pretty-big-deal-not-for-profit dedicated
to ‘making the world suck less’ by connecting teens and early 20-somethings to
social causes that matter to them.)
is also president of TMI, DoSomething’s agency subsidiary specializing in
research and consulting services around youth, technology and social change.
As a
result, Finger knows a thing or two about the kids and how to communicate with
And in this podcast with The Research Insighter
interview series, Finger shares some tips for talking with young people, including:

‘ Why ‘if you build it they will come’ isn’t a great
mobile strategy

‘ How to keep an authentic two-way text dialogue
going with thousands of young people

‘ Why brands shouldn’t necessarily just take the
kids’ word for it when it comes to preferences, and more’
Aria Finger will present ‘Using Mobile and Data Insights to Activate
Youth’ at The Future of Consumer Intelligence Conference taking place May 19th
through the 21st in Universal City, California.

SAVE 15% to attend The Future of Consumer Intelligence when you use code FOCI14BLOG today! 

more information or to register, please visit www.futureofconsumerintel.com

Old Crank

Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.