Most of us live in a world ruled by capitalism. We are constantly bombarded with ads of all sorts. From fashion, to eating, to medicine, well… pretty much anything that can be sold to us. We can’t even use the public restroom without seeing an ad on the door. Not even catching the bus, taking the train or driving to work we catch our breath without seeing huge billboards, or poster ads and radio commercials trying to convince us to buy like zombies. As a society we have gotten to the point that we feel miserable if we don’t have the latest cellphone model, or any other material objects that we can live without. We don’t realize that through ads, marketers manipulate the consumers to buy through impulse.
But how do marketers manipulate the consumers to buy? Well, they use psychology. Marketers will use sweet talk in order to create an emotional response from the consumer. This way people can create an association with the product. Not only that, but marketer know consumers are always looking for the hottest deals, so they will use advertisements that offers a percentage discount or buy one and get the second half off kinds of deals. Another technique used is the “No-Risk Free Trial”. This method is extremely effective because it encourages consumers to try their products. Marketers know deadlines or limited supply offers are efficient because it triggers an action response in the consumers. This technique is useful when expensive electronics are trying to be sold. Testimonials is another method used by marketers to persuade the consumer. Phrases like “It worked for me” are used a lot because it shows the costumer that their time is not being wasted. Another similar method is using celebrities with a positive reputation to sell their product. This is a powerful tool because customers are willing to trust a celebrity over a company that they do not know much about. Ads that are trying to sell products that will benefit the consumer use powerful words such as stronger, better and faster to show the effectiveness of the product.
Marketers will use techniques to tap into the consumer’s subconscious. For example they will use a process called affective conditioning. This technique uses images that makes us feel good, for example if a laundry detergent is trying to be sold, images of flowers, sunshine or babies will be used. This advertising technique makes the costumer feel good about the product. Another technique is overstimulating the costumer with music. This is used mainly in stores because people will purchase more products when they are overstimulated. This occurs because sensory over load weakens self-control in people making them act impulsively. Advertising is complex, not only marketer’s use the techniques previously mentioned, but they also need to take into account the coloring of the product. Colors are used to target a specific audience in order to influence them. Coloring is important because it sets the mood or first impression. For example if the product is eco-friendly then green should be used or if it’s a luxurious item then black, silver or gold are used.
All these factors and many more play a big role in convincing people to buy their products. But are ads negatively affecting our mental health? If so, what are the consequences? Well… ads just doesn’t sell products, it sells values, sexuality, and success. It tells us who we should be. It focuses on external beauty by bombarding us with images of the ideal woman and man. Ads teach consumers that they need to spend unnecessary money to achieve this look and when they can’t they fail. Ads promote a rich life, the life with huge houses and luxurious cars, full of brand clothing and shoes. It sells us this life knowing the majority of the public cannot afford it. Making us slaves at work just to buy material products we don’t really need. Big marketing corporations know that they need to break us down in order to sell us the solution. For example a bed brand will suggest that the reason we are fatigued each day, with headaches and back pains is because we are not getting enough sleep and the solution is investing a lot of money on their expensive bed. The problem with these ads is that not only does it make the consumer feel unsatisfied with their life style, it affects them financially. It is hard enough already trying to survive each day paying off debts, and wasting the little money they have left on unnecessary materials will just create a bigger problem.
In my opinion it is important that we the consumers understand the negative impacts of advertisement in order to live a fulfilling life. Society needs to understand that although it is okay to treat yourself every now and then by purchasing something a bit more expensive that is not needed, it is unhealthy to indulge in it all the time affecting yourself financially. Consumers need to acknowledge that happiness can’t be bought. I am grateful that there are marketers such as Dove selling body positivity ads and Coca Cola although an unhealthy drink promotes friendship and communication with their ads. What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you agree that advertisement promotes an unhealthy life style? Share your ideas at the bottom of this page.
Empower yourself with color psychology. (2015). Color and Marketing. http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-and-marketing.html
Sheree Johnson. (2014). New Research Sheds Light on Daily Ad Exposures. http://sjinsights.net/2014/09/29/new-research-sheds-light-on-daily-ad-exposures/
TEDx Talks. (2015). The Stockholm syndrome of advertising | Jacob Östberg. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEULSwE5GEk
Todd. (2011). The Sneaky Psychology Of Advertising. http://blog.buysellads.com/2011/the-sneaky-psychology-of-advertising/?view=infographic