Igor Scaldini

September 22, 2023

In marketing, context is more important than you think

It’s impossible to influence consumer behavior without considering in which context they will discover your product.

Think, for example, of a product or service you see as “the best” in its niche.

Have you tested every other alternative to be sure it’s the best? Do you understand the technical nuances to ensure it’s as good as you think? Is there a consensus that it’s really the best product or service out there?

Probably not.

Chances are that what makes you think it is the best product is the context you discovered. Who was using it? How was it being displayed? How did it work the first time? What were the emotional cues attached to this experience?

One of the best case studies of this phenomenon is an experiment designed by The Washington Post in 2007.

They invited the violinist Joshua Bell, one of the most celebrated artists of his era, to play as a street musician in one of the busiest D.C. metro stations.

7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, in the middle of the morning rush hour, he played for 43 minutes as a regular street musician.

1,097 people passed by.

And seven people stopped to appreciate his music for at least one minute.

One must say that this experiment proves that people don’t appreciate good music, or that’s just a matter of reaching the right audience – and sure, there might be some truth to it.

But the curious part is that just three days before the experiment, nearby the metro station, Joshua Bell filled up a theater with thousands of people, who paid at least $100 to see him playing the same songs.

Totally different reactions to the same musician playing the same songs with the same violin.

That’s the power of context.

About Igor Scaldini

Marketing, Business & Growth