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What Physics taught me about marketing


Google’s Marketing Director Dan Cobley, teaches us how physics can be related with marketing. Basically the main points of his theory are:

  1. “Acceleration equals force over mass”. That means for a larger particle it requires more force to change its direction. We can apply this to brands: The more  massive is a brand, the more force is needed to change it positioning.  That’s why Inditex has different brands: (Zara, Berskha, Massimo Dutti). Or Unilever holds more than 50 different names for their products.Carlos Slim the richest person in the world owns Grupo Carso which has around 100 different companies  spread in Latin America and USA.
This company has a portfolio with more than 3.500 different beverages. Amazing! What does it mean? First, they have to invest a considerable budget on marketing and adverts. But the act of disperse can help them to get more profits with every brand. For example I didn’t know that Coke owns Burn (RedBull’s competitor) or Nordic Mist. And also among them,they are protecting Coke company. How? For example, if someone discovers than Fanta is using dangerous ingredients to make the drinks, probably nobody will drink Fanta again, and Coke’s image can be affected, but not in the same grade that if the problem is Coke’s itself. Fanta will have the worst part, but everybody will still drinking coke without any problem.

2. “Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle”: It’s impossible by definition, to measure exactly the state and the momentum of a particle, because the act of measuring, by definition, changes it.

The principle for marketing is: try to measure what consumers actually do, rather than what they say they”ll do

Politic campaign
Few years ago, I participed in Mexico in political campaigns. We  worked with focus group, trying to understand what they thought about politics, candidates and Mexico issues. We arranged two different rooms. One of them would be the “focus group room”. I mean when they would interact with us and the other one would be “the living room” when they would rest.Of course they knew that we would ask questions about politics and we would record everything. We divided the focus group workout in two phases so that they would be able to relax in the living room for 20 minutes. They didn’t know that in the living room we also had cameras recording them.The surprise was (well it wasn’t really  a surprise) that they believed in one thing in the focus group room when they talked with us (for example that Mexico didn’t have economic issues) but when they talked in the living room between themselves they believed in something slightly different. Why?Because they didn’t want to cause trouble with their own thoughts, because we were “examining” them.

3. The scientific method: You can’t prove a hypothesis through observation. You can only disprove it.

Focus group
Going back to the last example, through our observation you can only make a statement. We made a “null hypothesis”. In statistics, the only way of supporting your hypothesis is to refute the null hypothesis. Rather than trying to prove your idea (the alternate hypothesis) right you must show that the null hypothesis is likely to be wrong – you have to ‘refute’ or ‘nullify’ the null hypothesis. Unfortunately you have to assume that your alternate hypothesis is wrong until you find evidence to the contrary.Example: Work in a focus group and interact with them will not affect their future answers.So, now with our observation, we can disprove our hypothesis:

Work in a focus group and interact with them will affect their future answers.


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