Sunday, October 29, 2006
Helping Consumers Trust Brands
Dr Hartley: So tell me, what seems to be the problem.
Mrs. X: I just can't trust brands anymore. I'm locked into this terrible hell where I have to buy generic all the time, even when there's recipies that call for, say Fleishmanns margarine, and i'm afraid if I don't use what's called for, the recipe can't work. But I'm still too afraid to trust a brand.
Dr Hartley: So, why can't you trust brands? Were you disappointed once by a brand once?
Mrs. X: Oh, Dr Hartley, how did you know? [breaks down into weeping]. Yes. Yes. This one brand, promised me, promised me, I tell you, this brand said it would get my shirts whiter that white. Cleaner than clean. Well, I bought it. I believed in it. I trusted it. And it let me down! And then I listened when another brand promised me that my whole family would love the stroganoff. And they hated it. Promises broken! Deception! Lies! I just can't trust brands anymore, and I feel terrible about it. I want to trust brands, but I'm so afraid that time and time again, they'll just hurt me. They'll just let me down. I can't risk being hurt like this again, so I'm just not trusting brands.
Dr Hartley: Now, I know you know that not all brands are lying and decepting brands, right?
Mrs X: Yes, I do. My head knows this. My head even gives them the benefit of the doubt, that they're not lying or deceiving bastards, but that they're trying and they're failing me.
Dr Hartley: But some brands actually live up to their promises.
Mrs. X: I know. I see it all the time. My neighbors have told me that Febreeze actually gets the cat piss smell out of the couch, and I'm so jealous and bitter that they've found a brand they can trust. Why can't I? What's wrong with me? Why can't I find a good, honest brand that I can trust?
Dr Hartley: I'd like to try a little experiment. Why don't we start with a brand that doesn't promise you anything? It just exists. Apply directly to the forehead. It won't let you down. Why not come in a week later and let's see how that works for you?
Mrs. X: I'll try it!
----one week later -- ---
Dr Hartley: OK, now how did that brand work for you?
Mrs X: Oh Dr Hartley, I've got problems. Look what happened! You see! When I choose a brand that is so cheap you don't even know what it does or promises, it freaks out on you. Yes, I can trust this brand, because it doens't make any promises. But it's so cheap and nondescript that, well, it freaks out on you? Why? Why can't I find a good, normal, brand that I can trust? What's wrong with me?
Dr Hartley: Oh my. Well, we'll work on this. It's going to take some time and a few more sessions here, but I promise you, we'll help you to trust brands again. But we're running low on time, and I have another patient to see.
Intercom: Dr. Hartley, Mr Carlin is here. He's very upset.
Dr Hartley: I'll be with him in a minute. Now, Mrs. X, you just go home, and take some Advil...
Mrs X: I'm going to just take some generic ibuprofen for that headache...
Dr Hartley: Try advil. Trust me. Advil will make that headache go away just as well as the generic ibuprofen. You don't have to trust the brand. Just trust me, and we'll work on the brand. Next week at 2?
Mrs X: [nervously] Yes. Next week at 2.