I was in a bus going home from work the other day, when I
noticed an ad for Yoga and Satsang
session by a “guru”. What struck me first was it did not talk about Yoga or
meditation, but instead about “Inner Engineering” and “Technologies for well
being”. My first thought was to laugh at the description of the Yoga class, but
then I thought more about whom the target audience was and the cognitive
dissonance with the medium used for advertising to that audience. Now, I am not
an expert on Satsang’s and the people that attend those, but clearly, the
audience that goes on a local bus would not necessarily appreciate the use of
jargon to describe the gathering was my thinking. So I did a quick poll among
the 5-7 odd people standing next to me about what they understood about “Inner
Turns out most of them actually did not notice the ad until
I pointed it out to them. This, given the fact that the ad was inside a bus,
with posters surrounding the entire top half was surprising to me. Upon closer
questioning though, most admitted to not actually understand any other word
except engineering on that ad, and were too embarrassed to admit it. They had
seen photos of the guru with a flowing beard and assumed it was another of
those “religious gatherings”.
As marketers, most of us are constantly looking for ways to
educate our target audience and also look for ways to differentiate our
offerings. The unfortunate part of being in generic, well understood spaces
such as mobile phone services, Yoga classes and restaurants is that most people
“know what you do”. So, mobile Internet connectivity is now “3G hyper speed connectivity”, a
regional restaurant offers “Nouvelle
Haute Kerala cuisine”, and of course Yoga is “Inner engineering”.
I notice though that this level of specificity is not
limited to technology companies. It permeates our consciousness with titles – Barista for a coffee maker, Sanitation engineer for a janitor and Productivity associate for an admin
There are multiple reasons we do this I believe, and here
are the ones I have heard.
First, the increased
competition for any given space now, versus a decade or two ago, means you have
to clearly differentiate among several similar offerings with very little
possibility to actually be different. What better way to be different that
position your product as “unique” goes the thinking.
Second, is the rise of search and the need for marketers to
“not want to compete for the generic keywords”. These words are very expensive and
so, we look to make up our own words to describe offerings, which albeit
generic, are very jargon heavy.
Finally, the rise of technically savvy generations of new
young audiences, which having grown up with Internet, Facebook, mobile phones
and tablet PC’s is looking for specific descriptions of products and services
and is quickly bored by yesterday’s terms.
I do wonder though, if as marketers will end up with
unwieldy product names and get a backlash against the use of technical but
unnecessary jargon. I’d love you hear your opinion on why we are accepting more
jargon in our lives as consumers.