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Zahm derives its deconstruction marketing strategy from research into co-creation and deep metaphor, such as the following:





This originally appeared as Chapter 4 in The Global Market: Developing a Strategy to Manage Across Borders,

eds. John A. Quelch and Rohit Deshpande, Jossey-Bass, May 2004.

There are three stages in the suggested strategic process:

1. Universal positioning. Formulate a concept and positioning for a product not as a response to the needs of a target segment, but rather in terms of basic emotions and feelings, or in terms of basic archetypes and metaphors, or in relation to a basic social function or ritual. The goal here is to identify something so fundamental that it will occupy a pivotal position in people’s mind all over the world. The universal positioning will generally reflect powerful, unconscious processes and outcomes that are also the raison d’etre for the product or service category.

2. Local research. Understand how potentially different market segments, especially in local cultural settings, uniquely experience the chosen universal positioning. This requires identifying the ideas, activities, and images that are locally associated with the universal elements serving as the product’s core concept.

3. Stimulating co-creation. Surround the universal position with just enough local associations and meanings to enable consumers to confirm their self-identity and at the same time challenge them to expand in new directions that are personally relevant. This results in personally meaningful brand stories being created by consumers that are directionally consistent with the strategic goal of the firm.


While archetypes mostly refer to roles or situations that can be built into stories, refer to robust and widespread ways of expressing one thought in terms of another. The Zaltman metaphor elicitation technique [italics added] is a research process that seeks to isolate deep metaphors as they apply to specific topics or products, Balance between body and mind is a metaphor that will prove useful in both the United States and in China to express the idea of fitness. Games, wars, human qualities, growing plants, fluid mechanics, and body movements are some of the most widespread sources of metaphors that people use to express their thoughts vividly, The purpose of metaphors is to convey meaning in a way that people are almost certainly relating to. The spontaneous process of using metaphors consists in stepping back and using a shared experience to describe something. Thus, metaphors are core elements of effective universal positioning.