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Memetics: a new paradigm for understanding customer behaviour and influence

Paul S. Marsden (D Phil Research Student, Graduate Research Centre in the Social Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 1 November 1998

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Abstract

The objective of this paper is to provide a non‐technical introduction to the science of memetics and to suggest how this new discipline may be applied to the design and development of effective marketing campaigns. The technique is based on a neo‐Darwinian evolutionary model of information transmission that may be used to explain and predict the “infectiousness” of certain ideas and behaviours. It is argued that traditional marketing theories based on rational choice theory may rely on an impossible homuncular psychology and it is suggested that a viable alternative would be to understand customer behaviour from a memetic perspective ‐ the result of contagion rather than conscious choice. From the memetic paradigm the role of marketing communications becomes one of designing and engineering infectious “mind viruses” that will influence customer perceptions and behaviour. Whilst memetics is still in its infancy, it is suggested that memetic engineering may provide a viable and effective complementary framework to standard techniques for developing successful marketing strategies.

Keywords

Citation

Marsden, P.S. (1998), "Memetics: a new paradigm for understanding customer behaviour and influence", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 16 No. 6, pp. 363-368. https://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000004541

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited

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