Tag Archives: Neuromarketing

Why do we buy soup?

Oyster Bar, Grand Central Station

Yesterday morning I woke up with oyster stew (or pan roast) on my mind. Why? Who knows – but it was snowing, sort of, and the memory of the Oyster Bar’s stew came back. It’s what I always ate as a very young boy on rare trips to New York City with my father: Museum of Natural History, Abercrombie & Fitch’s wonderful store on Madison (?) Avenue, then the Oyster Bar on our way home. So off I went to Fjord Fisheries for oysters and, a quart of milk, cream and a dash of smoked paprika (and a shot of Worcester sauce) later, we dined on great soup, fresh salad and a baguette. Bliss.

Why do I mention this, other than hoping to annoy FWIW’s Walter Noel so early in the morning? Because the Wall Street Journal reports this morning on Campbell Soup’s efforts at neuromarketing and it’s kind of interesting. Turns out, they don’t know why people buy soup and the buyers don’t either. They just do. So Campbell’s wired up (paid, presumably) consumers and follows them around the supermarket, trying to see what sets their brains buzzing.

I sympathize – how do you stir a fifty-year-old memory and set a consumer off on a quest? Campbell’s is redesigning its packaging, but I don’t know how that will work. Apparently, neither does Campbell’s.

The problem: It’s not easy to know what prompts people to buy soup, except for something warm to eat on a frosty day. When asked why they eat more soup or not, people tend to “say they don’t think of it,” says Doug Conant, Campbell’s chief executive.


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