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Heidegger's Marketing Secrets: What German Philosophers Know About Selling TVs

ReD mines the work of philosophers to help companies sell more stuff
Christian Madsbjerg (left) and Mikkel Rasmussen
Christian Madsbjerg (left) and Mikkel RasmussenPhotograph by Dustin Aksland for Bloomberg Businessweek

When the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer died in 2002, at the age of 102, he was unaware of the impact he would posthumously have on mobile electronics, distilled beverages, and personal grooming, among other consumer-product categories. A giant in the field of phenomenology, Gadamer examined how human beings perceive and make sense of the world around them. He was celebrated for adapting hermeneutics—interpretive methods originally developed by Biblical scholars—to the study of human perception, but over his long career he also wrote about music, visual art, politics, medicine, and myriad other topics. He did leave some questions unanswered, however, such as: How can a low-end electronics company create products that wealthy consumers crave? And: What do women want in athletic gear?