The company said the results not only confirmed Zippo's image as the maker of a cool, hip and classic lighter, but insights that came out of the focus groups will likely shape the lighter maker's advertising campaign for the next year.
"At first we thought it was a strange idea," said Bradford-based Zippo spokesman Patrick Grandy. "But the more we talked, the more it made sense."
Industry officials said the use of hypnosis is limited, but that it has been used in the past. Many view it as a tool to enhance traditional research methods, such as focus groups and number crunching, for the nation's $231.3 billion advertising industry.
"I haven't used it but I've had employees use it," said Robin Hafitz, a committee co-chair at the American Association of Advertising Agencies and an account planner at Mad Dog & Englishmen in New York.
In Zippo's case, four focus groups — with the participants' consent — were led by market researcher Hal Goldberg through self-hypnosis to uncover their fondest memories associated with using the famous windproof lighters.
Goldberg, a certified hypnotist who developed the technique in 1972, says he's done hypnosis focus groups for the likes of food giant General Mills, Dewar's scotch, Shell Oil Co. and Alberto-Culver Co., maker of Alberto VO5 hair products.
Goldberg, who runs Qualitative and Quantitative Research in Irvine, Calif., says he begins by walking participants through a number of exercises to reach a relaxed state.
"Once they're in that state, they're much more receptive to answering my questions and they can recall even inconsequential details," he said.
.......sure beats cold sandwiches and stale coffee, maybe we can focus group and quit smoking in one go? I smell a business-idea here!