Marketing Research Consultancy

r h i z o m i c o n is a consulting house with its foundations in marketing and heavily utilizes the concepts from the social sciences. We engage in work in the following expertise areas:

  1. Marketing, strategy, and policy research
  2. Social and mobile media consulting and development
  3. Managing sustainability projects
If you are interested in seeing how we might be able to help you, please click on our specialization areas on the buttons below. If you are interested in our approach, please read on.

The Philosophy

Our philosophy towards marketing and is about being an extraordinary brand  by building on social science and marketing concepts. What is an extraordinary brand? Why be extraordinary? We define the extraordinary business or organization is an entity that is great. Specifically, it makes people notice it, but it also is approachable and one which people want to foster a relationship with. It can be at the neighborhood or the global level. The extraordinary brand is one that has a personality the target audience wants to approach. The approachability makes the brand trustworthy and fosters intense loyalty. Being good just is not good enough. It is also a mistake to try to be extraordinary to everyone—the brand needs to be extraordinary towards people who are most likely to see value in it.

We think marketing research should help brands, ideas, candidates, and organizations move towards being extraordinary. Truly extraordinary in the hearts and minds of their audiences and extraordinary in how the brand is experienced.

How to do this? Follow our case examples below for ideas on how to achieve this.

Branding Case Examples

Xbox: We think social science concepts can inform this. In the mid-2000s, Microsoft’s Xbox had this commercial: 

It has nothing to do with the game console. It’s purely an emotional branding ad. What it’s doing is showing a bunch of kids having spirited fun in a water balloon fight. The kids are in the know with adults being bystanders in the melee, set to the old song, “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic”. The ad is memorable in its execution, but we think part of what Xbox is trying to do is create an extraordinary branding by creating a sense of belonging to a brand community—communitas. The Jump in” tagline invites those in the know to join in on the fun through the brand of Xbox. Those who don’t “get it” need not apply.

Starbucks: The Starbucks brand is ubiquitous and has a global presence. The prevalence of Starbucks in the American landscape is well known enough to be the subject of a joke in Christopher Guest’s “Best in Show” (2000). Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock recount how they met by spying each other, not in the same Starbucks, but at adjacent Starbucks locations:

The characters speak a language of brands: Starbucks, Apple Macintosh, J.Crew, etc., that denotes a brand constellation for these fictional characters. Brand constellations can serve to help marketers and brand managers better define their target audiences, by tapping into the lifestyles of their customers. This isn’t what makes the brand truly remarkable.

The Starbucks brand is everywhere, but much of its appeal is that it created a third space that customers can hang out in. We know what to expect in a Starbucks and we also know there everywhere. The ubiquity of Starbucks also enjoys the benefits of a bit of social psychology. The ‘mere exposure’ effect. In the late 1960s and 1970s, social psychology research by Robert Zajonc showed that familiarity breeds liking, even without direct experience. When people see a brand or an image over and over again, they are predisposed to like it. This occurs even when controlled for aesthetics.

Anthropologie: This retailer spends nothing on advertising, yet has a huge, loyal following. How? It it because they’re everywhere like Starbucks? No. Are they creating a branded community with an emphasis on belonging? Well, sort of, but the key to Anthropologie is creating a meaning system that relates to one’s personal sense of style and identity. This is what makes the brand extraordinary. The product assortment is unique and represents a particular style ethos that is quirky without being weird and not too mass market. Anthropologie used the anthropological fashion system to transfer meanings from products purchased to the individual buying them. There is a sense of brand community that goes along with Anthropologie that is based on these meanings and a shared identity based on them. A retailer like Anthropologies must strive to stay true to this identity and to maintain being “on code” with it.

We feel our research can help brands and organizations find out what makes them extraordinary. Additionally, we are developing new knowledge in the area of brand backlash, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of brands along very specific dimensions, which is particularly salient in this era of social media.