Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

John Lewis 'Remember the Feeling'

John Lewis ad and its success
The John Lewis Christmas 2009 advert ‘Remember the Feeling’ is to a large extent responsible for the U-turn in the company’s financial fortunes from previous years of significantly lower like-for-like sales compared to their rivals (Golding et al. 2012). So, why was the John Lewis advert so successful? How did it influence people?  

Emotional Engagement
The advert depicts young children opening adult gifts with the slogan: ‘Remember how Christmas used to feel? Give someone that feeling’, and is accompanied by the song ‘Sweet Child o Mine’. The advertisement is clearly targeted at parents and is intended to evoke sentimental feelings towards their childhood experiences of Christmas. This encourages buying behaviour as they seek to replicate the same emotions in their children’s experience of Christmas, and John Lewis is presented as the place to shop in order to do that.

Social Proof
One of the successes of the John Lewis advert was to get people talking about it – 36% of surveyed consumers reported talking about the advert with friends, compared to the retail norm of 25% (Golding et al., 2012:18). Implicit in John Lewis’ sale success might be the role of social proof. Social proof is the principle that ‘we determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct’ (Cialdini 2009:99). Getting more people talking about John Lewis implies that more people are buying John Lewis’ products, and suggests that you ought to as well. This is a commonly used principle by marketers to boost sales. Indeed, it might be said that Cialdini is ironically poking fun at the principle himself on the cover of his book, which reads ‘Over 2 Million copies sold!’ The need to inquire about the book’s quality is made slightly redundant – the fact that 2 million people have bought the book is proof enough that you should buy it.

Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Influence: Science and Practice. Boston: Pearson Education.

Golding, D., Adam & Eve., Weavers, H. and Knight, P. (2012). John Lewis: Making the nation cry…and buy’

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