Sunday, December 30, 2007

8 important consumer trends for 2008

OK. Perhaps I just couldn't resist the picture, but lists premiumization in its latest trend report. This one is about premium water. For example, the middle bottle is
Evian's limited-release Palace bottle, available only in high end bars and restaurants. [It] features a specially designed pouring top and is accompanied by a stainless steel coaster, selling for USD 15-20 per bottle.
To bring our attention back to the picture, one rarely hears anyone talk about what it is about pictures of women's bodies that turn men on. Is that too trivial a question? Of course men are turned on by women's bodies? Do we know why — from an experiential perspective. Certainly we know why from an evolutionary perspective. It helps us persevere as a species. But what's the mechanism of the turn on?

My sense is that the primary mechanism is an imagining of how the woman feels, that is her subjective experience, but subjective experience in mainly a physical sense — not what she's thinking about and not what she's feeling on any deeply emotional level. I think we men are turned on by imagining all the sensations that (we suppose) are being transmitted by the skin we see and what it feels like to the woman to have those sensations. Is that too obvious?

In saying this I haven't explained how imagining how a woman experiences her physical sensations turns men on. While writing this it struck me that mirror neurons must be involved. So I looked up mirror neurons and came across this NYT article by Sandra Blakeslee from about 2 years ago.
The ability to share the emotions of others appears to be intimately linked to the functioning of mirror neurons, said Dr. Christian Keysers, who studies the neural basis of empathy at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and who has published several recent articles on the topic in Neuron.

When you see someone touched in a painful way, your own pain areas are activated, he said. When you see a spider crawl up someone's leg, you feel a creepy sensation because your mirror neurons are firing.
The article's final paragraph is as follows.
In yet another realm, mirror neurons are powerfully activated by pornography, several scientists said. For example, when a man watches another man have sexual intercourse with a woman, the observer's mirror neurons spring into action. The vicarious thrill of watching sex, it turns out, is not so vicarious after all.
Unfortunately, that was the end of the story. I suspect that men's mirror neurons are triggered not only by watching another man having sex with a woman but simply by looking at a woman whose body is depicted in such a way that it's easy for the man to imagine the sensations she is feeling.

Now for the most important question: why is she wearing that string around her waist?

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