Advertising surrounds us everyday, on television (if you watch it), billboards, magazines, newspapers, cars and buses, bus stands, elevators, public bathrooms and the list goes on. With it having such a profound presence in our lives it should seem only necessary to teach our children/teenagers how it works. For those that don’t know much about marketing I hope to disperse some valuable pointers. These are only general pointers, the psychology of marketing is a vast subject.
- They are designed to make you feel inadequate. An advertisement bases it’s whole presence on making sure you don’t feel complete without it. It may target many areas, a good example being physical appearance and it is saying you are not complete unless you have this. E.g. Your only a good parent if you give this to your baby.
- They will target emotions. Emotions are normally the key influence in any purchasing decision. As soon as the customer/your child/you become emotional (on either side of the scale) then the purchase is likely to be made not following reason.
- Sex sells. It is just astounding sometimes how they can relate something to sex. But they will do it, anything to make a male think he can attract women to a women feeling sensual if they have the product.
- Women make up the majority of consumers. Not a too surprising fact there, but women contribute to over 70% of sales. Hence marketing is mainly targeted at women. For example a man’s razor was advertised (using sex obviously) but clearly targeted to women as women generally do the household shopping.
- Packaging. You may be surprised to know that sometimes the only difference between products is the packaging. They have done this with soaps, detergents and many other products, actually putting the exact same product into different packaging and charging different amounts.
- Celebrity endorsement. A common used strategy where a celebrity gets paid a lot of money to pose for pictures or do a commercial for a product they know nothing about. With people wanting to feel accepted by peers or “cool”, mimicking a celebrity is seen as a way to do this.
- Movie product placement. Have you ever wondered about the excessive reference to a product in a movie? For example the many references to eBay in the transformers movie. Well that is normally due to the millions paid to change the script to accommodate the product placement.
- Fantasy. Expect extraordinary things when you buy their product. Apparently a product can cause magical things to happen. I certainly do encourage children to think that anything is possible, but realize the way to do it isn’t buying that product.
So what should you base purchasing decisions on? Well that all comes down to personal taste. If it is functional and will make you happy, improve the quality of your life or someone elses or provide entertainment, not because it has degraded or manipulated your emotional state to begin with, then I see it as a wise purchasing decision.
Just for a laugh here is an advertisement that actually makes fun of advertising and clearly reinforces most of the points I just made. (All except the movie and celebrity endorsements). I also realize that by sharing this I am just adding to the viral campaign they have just created.