Association Principle

So the last night of 2020 perfectly summarised the entire year. At around 8 PM, I got a message from a woman saying ‘Drinks tonight?’. If this is the first message any girl sends you, you are bound to get suspicious. But that didn’t happen in this case as I knew she was a real person who teaches in my school and had joined during my final years of schooling. Now I am someone who would never say no to such an offer due to the high expected NPV in terms of dopamine. I replied, ‘Definitely’. I got a call from her immediately and all she asked me was how long it will take to reach her place. She shared her address, and I was there within an hour. I took some liquor along post the learning from the wine date incident that had happened years back. The night was quite memorable in a new aspect.

Anyway, coming to the MBA concept of the ‘Association Principle‘. It is a concept taught in the marketing courses at a b-school. It is a type of advertising technique that “associates a product with a positive cultural value or image”. The association principle attempts to convince consumers that there is an innate relationship between a brand or product and an attitude.

It is quite commonly used by firms to position their product better in the minds of their target market (TG). A well-known example is the age-old Cadbury’s India tagline of ‘Kuch meetha ho jaye’.

In India, every occasion of celebration or festival is accompanied by the exchange of sweet delicacies. Cadbury tapped into this market and targeted a new target group (TG) of adults by positioning Dairy Milk as a replacement for traditional Indian sweets.

The association principle has interesting insight into the context of modern-day dating. People, especially in India associate a certain positive correlation with dating/matrimonial matches. They have a pre-conceived notion that guys from these college brands are the best matches in every sense. They just focus on the competency part and ignore the other three quadrants in KF4D (Experiences, Drivers, Traits). This leads to a huge expectation mismatch at later stages. If a guy is from a certain pedigree, it doesn’t warrant that he’ll act in a particular way or will be the best match. ‘Correlation doesn’t mean causation‘.

That brings me to the date with my school teacher. So is this it? Have I finally found the tutoring I needed all my life? Is the bad spell of my life over with the end of 2020? Well, post my accident (switch on the subtitles, audio gets muffled in the audience laughter), my balance and coordination got hampered a bit. As soon as I reached her place, she felt that it was caused by inebriation and that I was drunk already. Then she made up some excuse about the flatmate’s boyfriend meeting with an accident that she just found out about and needed to rush to the hospital. Her flatmate actually couldn’t control her laughter as my date was telling this story. My closest guess is she didn’t want to feel like a third wheel with her flatmate and boyfriend as her date would have backed off at the last moment. So was playing ‘fastest finger first’ with her matches with whoever drops to her place. I reached the fastest, but then she didn’t like what she felt about my seemingly inebriated state. It was just 9 and she could call the next option and still have a great New Year’s party. Anyhow, I left the liquor bottle so that at least someone has a good time. I never heard from her post her final parting words of ‘I’ll get back to you’, which summarises all the HR mails of 2020 perfectly.



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