This post is probably one that will bother some marketing professionals, but I believe that educated consumers lead companies to challenge themselves and push them to create better products that are more useful and relevant to their lives.
With this past election and Donald Trump’s big win, I have felt the need to go back to where marketing and psychology meet and understand how consumers make decisions.
In current society, where we need to give quick opinions/ideas, we have multiple places where we can voice our views, and marketing professionals are becoming better and better at crafting enticing messages that people love to follow. More than ever, consumers need to pay attention to marketing tricks. When marketers communicate a message, they can use different approaches to get their point(s) across, and consumers need to pay attention when they see some triggers being pulled.
- Pay attention when a message talks about your feelings. Too often, companies, in their ads and communication, either talk outright about, or convey meanings on, feelings. Products do not carry emotions.
Depending on your state of mind, your brain can create a feeling that doesn’t have to be there in the first place. It has been scientifically proven that coca cola cannot remove the feeling of thirst. The sugar in the product actually makes you more thirsty; yes, it’s true for diet products as well. However, this product is associated with hot temperature, sporting events, and sweat, and when we drink a cold coke, we feel quenched even if the reality is different.
- Pay attention to people using the term “Scientifically proven”, “no one can’t deny”, “everybody knows”, “face the facts”, and verify the source of information.
Don’t let the media, a company, or person be the only proof point of a message. Compare, contrast, put into perspective, and question the status quo. We live in a world where 44% of people are using their Facebook feed as a daily source of information. In this feed you have infomercials, advertisements, and opinions that are typically not founded, have not been verified, and are rarely confirmed. Brands spread rumors and never invite people to verify their claims. We are not too far from tobacco companies supporting the use of cigarettes. Also, numbers can be deceiving and should be verified by consumers (but that’s a post for another day).
- Pay attention when a brand is associated to something/someone positive. It is particularly the case in the world of sports and entertainment. Endorsements are a huge market worldwide. Brands want to associate themselves with winners, people or personages, that carry a message by themselves. This is why, when a person being endorsed by a brand exhibits bad behavior, the brand promptly cut sties with the personality. We want to be like Curry, like Lebron, like Michelle Obama, or like Oprah, so we buy products they use. Be careful with these claims. I don’t think that Lebron James really eats at McDonalds everyday.
- Pay attention when it makes you want to be part of a closed group. Most of us want to feel appreciated. This sense of belonging can be created by paying fees or by buying a product that has been approved by the group. When I go to the ball game with my sons, I see commercials on the “official movers” of the Braves, or the “official pizza place” of the Atlanta Hawks. By supporting their business, I feel like I am part of the team. This is why these companies endorsements represent huge deals.
- Pay attention when someone or some company says that “there is no bad marketing”. The more a company is on the air, the more people see it. I don’t agree with marketing that allows you to be provocative without limits. We saw it with Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the most recent US election that presented some very offensive and sensitive topics. The subjects made commentary about gender, race, sexual orientation, neighborhood myths, and assumptions about others. There seemed to be no limits in bad taste. The more media reports on this, the more messages are communicated to the masses, and the more chances people have to use it as a foundation for information. Question your choices, because you cannot excuse everything, and YES, you always have a choice.
Marketers need to be honest with the products they endorse, and consumers have a duty to make educated choices. As a consumer, I fell in these traps in the past, and I will fall again in the future. However, I try to pay attention and slow down when I see these types of advertisements being used or when someone is using these triggers.