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Somatic metaphors and marketing

What makes the difference for some packs and some ads that have that little bit of intangible something extra? What is the feather that tilts preferences in your brand's direction when all other things are equal?

We are learning through our research at INSIDE STORY with youth that the appropriate expression of the body language (or in other words the somatic experience) that principally defines a person as an individual can potentially make such a difference.

Take the Toyota jump for instance. There are very good reasons why it is a jump and not a flop, a slouch or a tumble. This is to do with the fundamental and primary relevance of the up metaphor for human experience. Metaphors allow us to understand one domain of experience in terms of another.

Latest discoveries in neuroscience are showing that our identities or senses of self originate in the body and are somatically defined (Damasio - Somatic Marker Hypothesis). Much of experience goes back to the primary bodily experience. This includes experiences relevant to marketers.

Our somatic or bodily experiences are the building blocks of our sense of self and also of our emotions – and finally our dispositions. All of which are of key relevance to marketers particularly when we consider dispositions towards packs, product experiences and brands.

This research is based on innovative qualitative research into somatic metaphors which reveal more hidden dimensions to what makes youth in Asia and Australia tick and is nearly complete in Australia.

The Australian leg of the research was presented in the IQPC conference (INSIGHTS 2006) on the 11th and 12th of April see (

  • How to connect with 16 – 18s at a deep level by identifying your target as one of a number of somatically defined identities.
  • How you will know them when you see them – from their different looks, body languages and key words.
  • How they will know you as one of them when they see and experience your ads, packs and other marketing activities.

This is totally unique research in that is goes deep into the arena of body language and how this relates to marketing implementation and positioning.

It will help marketers in their choice of talent for ads plus assist in the selection of the shapes, colours, sounds and kinetics of packaging, helping to better target activities and better activate choice through packaging, the brand and product experience.

This study is based on innovative qualitative research techniques eliciting somatic metaphors.

At the end of May 2006 I conducted a course in Singapore to the Asian marketing community on avant-garde marketing techniques and our latest research on Asian youth conducted for the international conference organizers IQPC. You can find this course on IQPC course website