Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Some people think that buying the products a certain company produces is a matter of chance or simple need-based decision making. While to some extent this is true, corporations often get us to buy their products in fairly subtle and ingenious ways of which even we may not be fully aware. It's helpful to know about some of these tricks and techniques companies use so that we can be more awake and aware consumers, buying what we actually want and need rather than what we've been convinced to purchase.
One way that corporations get us to buy their products is with tricky advertising. This advertising may appear to be giving a simple message but in fact be saying something quite misleading to the customer and in this way making a product look more exceptional or high quality than it is. An example here would be coffee companies that boast that their coffee is "mountain grown" as if this gives it some special status or quality. All specialty coffee is mountain grown and thus this confers no special quality indicator on the coffee. If a coffee company really wanted to describe the quality level of their coffee they could use specific coffee quality indicators such as "Strictly Hard Bean," "Supremo," and "AA." There are many other such tricky advertising techniques that companies use, this is only one small example. The net effect is to persuade people to buy a product based on exaggerated or irrelevant information.
Some instructions on packaging is not so much designed to instruct as to encourage consumption and thus create future demand to buy a product. There may, for instance, be food packaged in containers that have instructions telling you simply to open the container and eat the contents. This has a conscious or subliminal effect of encouraging your desire for the product, feeling you've been instructed to do so. This in turn causes you to feel instructed to buy more afterwards.
The same sort of thing occurs when packaging delineates suggested amounts for use. This can occur with food items, laundry detergent, and many other products. The customer assumes that these amounts are given as simple information while they may in fact be exaggerated by the company producing their products so that you buy more in a shorter period of time.
Images used in advertising are often put there to make subliminal impressions on people. This can't necessarily be classed with the tricky advertising techniques discussed above because corporations can use essentially any image they want to advertise their products. These images can't necessarily be considered misleading in any strict sense. They are often merely seductive. An advertising image that shows a man driving a car the company is trying to sell with a beautiful woman beside him is doing this in a simple nnd fairly straightforward manner. Men seeing the ad will tend to consciously or subconsciously feel that this car will allow them to date a similar woman and in general fit the complete image that ad is presenting. While this is no secret to most people, it bears repeating, and is sometimes done in less obvious ways that have the same effect.
One final fairly tricky way that corporations get consumers to buy their products is by careful analysis and use of shopping patterns. In retail stores the placement of objects is often done quite purposefully based on known facts about the way shoppers proceed through the shopping environment. For instance, shoppers are known to like to proceed in a counter clockwise direction. Therefore, products that a store wants you to consider first are often put to the right of the door, and other products are strategically placed in a clockwise layout through the store.
Shop with awareness. Realize that companies are trying to get you to buy their products. Buy what you actually desire and can put to good use.
Thomas Rutherford is a clinical psychologist and guest author at Best Psychology Degrees, where he has written articles about Top Ranked Online Bachelor's Psychology Degrees.