Why should I care? Learn how easily we may be manipulated into brand loyalty.
Consumers find it more and more challenging to recognize marketing ploys as they get more sophisticated and nuanced.
Enter Brandwashed, a book written by Martin Lindstrom, a former marketing insider who walks you through the usual (and not-so-common) marketing gimmicks with the goal of educating you as a consumer and assisting you in making far more logical purchasing decisions.
This book will show you the tricks that well-known brands use to get you to buy their goods. It will also demonstrate how advertisements are created by businesses to take advantage of your psychological vulnerabilities, so that even though you may think you’re choosing a product on a shopping trip based on reason, you’re actually being subconsciously steered towards particular ones.
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You can start learning how to prevent yourself from falling for this kind of trick by reading these blinks. Your next shopping trip will be more enjoyable and sensible if you are aware of advertising’s techniques.
You’ll also learn.
- The reasons why bestseller lists are a highly effective tool for triggering this behavior, why people can’t resist peer pressure.
- Why why fear is the strongest motivator for purchasing.
- Why the reasons why cocaine may be more addictive than fatty foods.
- The reasons lip gloss is addictive.
- Explain how certain products you choose as an adult are created in the womb.
Children’s exposure to various brands and products shapes their preferences as adults.
Why do so many grownups still buy the same juice they did as kids? And why do some grownups instantly remember the commercial for the brand of cornflakes their mother used to buy?
We are exposed to a wide variety of goods and brands while we are young, and these leave a lasting imprint on us well into adulthood.
In actuality, we start developing these preferences even before birth. A fetus may hear sounds from the outside world while it is within the mother’s womb. So, if a mother enjoys a certain song, she will express to her child the pleasant feelings it gives her. Additionally, since unborn children can recognize melodies, even commercial jingles, hearing or remembering them later in life will still make them feel good.
Once we are born, the media continues to inundate us with hundreds of brands via TV, video games, and web commercials.
In fact, a Nickelodeon study indicated that by the time they are 10 years old, children will have memorized 300–400 brands as a result of their exposure to so many advertisements. Children will develop long-lasting ties with some of these hundreds of businesses.
These connections frequently arise because kids think that brands make it easier for them to make friends. For instance, in a 2009 research, one preschooler desired LEGO because he thought that without it, no other kids would want to play with him or even like him.
The last explanation for our predilection for particular brands is that kids think everything in their family is standard. As a result, they grow up to favor the same things that their parents buy. Children may begin to see a certain brand of orange juice as the “typical” orange juice if they observe their parents repurchasing it time and time again.
Later in life, the adult will connect companies like these with pleasant memories. For instance, the brand may conjure up images of a cozy childhood home and the warm embrace of a cherished family. Exactly for this reason, even as adults, we keep buying the same brands.
We’ll discover more about a few additional elements that affect how we behave as consumers in the blinks that follow.
We may make irrational decisions out of fear.
Many people assume that those who enjoy viewing horror films or participating in ghost tours also enjoy being alarmed.
However, this isn’t true terror. When someone is truly terrified—when they are afraid for their lives or for their safety—they will do anything to get away from the danger.
And frequently, this results in our acting irrationally.
Fear is a biological response to danger; since our survival is our most essential motivation, it is hardwired into our brains to cause us to act fast when we are endangered.
More particular, the amygdala, which controls fear, has the power to suppress the prefrontal cortex, which controls rational conduct and responds considerably more slowly.
Therefore, when we sense danger, we act fast to maintain our safety, but frequently in ways that are not particularly sane.
For instance, we use hand sanitizers to try and protect ourselves whenever there is a global flu epidemic, which seems like a reasonable reaction to have. Despite the fact that there is no evidence to support their effectiveness, we rush to utilize them because we are terrified for our survival.
We also fear our future “feared selves,” a form of ourselves that we genuinely wish to avoid, in addition to actual danger.
For instance, nobody ever wants to be accused of looking worn out, unhealthy, or dirty. People therefore behave irrationally, especially when making purchases, to prevent this.
One study from 2008 found that showing customers a future self version of themselves was the most effective technique to get them to buy a product. Consider the enormous sums of money that people spend on cosmetics, only to avoid being perceived as messy or unsightly by others.
Products and shopping can lead to addiction in people.
Would you be able to live without your favorite coffee, lipstick, or smartphone? While many people cannot, some can actually develop true addictions to such products.
This addiction can cause really major issues, such as spending so much money on shopping that you go bankrupt, or minor issues like being unable to put your phone away for longer than an hour.
In actuality, many individuals believe they are addicted to a certain commodity, making this addiction a common issue in contemporary culture. One research, for instance, revealed that 34% of Stanford University students acknowledged to smartphone addiction.
Furthermore, this type of addiction affects the brain in exactly the same way as other, more well-known addictions like drug use or love, which is, technically, an addiction to your spouse.
For instance, a research discovered that the insula, a part of the brain, was stimulated when young Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 heard the ringing or felt the vibrations of their iPhones. When we fall in love, this area is also active.
Contrarily, shopping addiction operates in a somewhat different manner. A shopping addict has a dopamine rush when they shop, which is a hormone that makes them feel good and high.
Dopamine levels quickly return to normal after the encounter, though, and the addict’s mood will thereafter decline.
Once they’ve felt such a high, they’ll naturally want to do it again—and soon. However, in order to continue getting a “high,” they will need to raise their “hit” each time, which implies that the quantity they buy each time they go on a shopping binge increases.
Peer pressure has a big impact on us because of our need to fit in.
Do you look behind you when someone is staring at something to see what they’re looking at?
If so, you’re not alone; most people tend to behave in groups. Additionally, this is a fairly natural process because we often imitate what those around us are doing.
Peer pressure is an expression of this phenomena. But what is its purpose?
As a social species, humans are. In our evolution, we’ve acquired an impulse to do all we can to fit in with the tribe because we want to be a member of a community.
One research, for instance, trained 14-month-old newborns to play with particular toys before bringing in untrained infants to observe them in action.
The untrained newborns knew what to do with the toys when the researchers gave them to them two days later because they had carefully watched the other babies play.
People also find it quite uncomfortable to be left out because of their desire to fit in. In one experiment, 200 participants were asked to walk around a room, but only ten of them were given particular directions in which to go. After some time, everyone wanted to blend in with the other 200 participants, so they all started moving in the same direction.
Peer pressure also causes us to desire what others possess.
For instance, in a different experiment, those assembled in a room were given cookies. Only one in five of them first accepted a cookie. A participant was then dispatched by the researchers into the room to accept a cookie without being offered one. At once, everyone in the room started consuming cookies.
People’s fear of “missing out” is the cause of this type of conduct, thus when one person takes something for herself, the entire group is likely to do the same.
Although the comforting sensation of nostalgia is healthy for our health, it might cause us to remember the past incorrectly.
As we become older, we tend to have fond memories of the TV series we watched as kids. We probably consider them to be almost works of art, despite the fact that they may have been cartoons that were made at a low cost.
The cause of this is nostalgia, a strong and sentimental desire to go back in time.
But why do we yearn so much?
First and foremost, nostalgia is crucial to our wellbeing. Positive memory, also known as rosy remembering, is a strategy to shield ourselves from unpleasant memories that can restrict our future behavior.
For instance, women would probably decide against having children again if they continuously remembered every last detail of the agony of delivery.
However, if all they can recall are the good parts—like the excitement of a new baby—they might be eager to go through it all over again.
Second, remembering “the good old days” can greatly elevate one’s mood and even fortify bonds with others.
For instance, in a 2006 study, students were questioned about their social skills, including their ability to create relationships and support their peers emotionally, as well as how frequently they experience nostalgia. It showed out that the pupils who had a propensity for sentimental thinking had far better social abilities.
But nostalgia has a dark side as well. Sometimes it can cause us to recall things that never truly happened.
In a well-known experiment, researchers persuaded participants that they had a memory of seeing Bugs Bunny in Disney World as children. However, given that Bugs is a Warner Bros. character, this circumstance cannot possibly exist.
However, the researchers were able to influence the individuals’ memories by making them experience the cozy glow of nostalgia.
It’s time to examine how marketers use this knowledge to influence our purchasing decisions now that you are aware of the elements that affect our brand preferences.
Companies start focusing on children at a very young age since they carry brand preferences into adulthood.
Nowadays, marketing is all around youngsters, whether it be during the commercial breaks of their favorite TV shows, on a teddy bear, or on the back of a box of cereal.
Businesses target youngsters in this way because they are aware that doing so can result in the child developing into a devoted, lifelong consumer.
But how precisely do they attract children?
Using entertainment to pique children’s interest in a particular product is a powerful technique to influence them. For their “Apple Jack” cereal, Kellogg’s developed a racing-car game for the iPhone in which kids may collect cereal icons to get bonus points.
This tactic offers a lot of benefits. First off, the games assist businesses in getting around regulations that prohibit them from airing direct TV advertising to children. Second, while they play with their friends, kids who play these games serve as “viral marketers,” bringing attention to a business.
Once a firm has succeeded in attracting children to their brand, they want to make sure that these children continue to support it as adults.
Companies want to get kids to use “grown-up items” as soon as possible in order to achieve this goal.
Brands attempt to achieve this by marketing to children with adult or teen products, despite the fact that children are more likely to stick with the brands they prefer in early life.
For instance, cosmetic companies like Bonne Bell sell products to girls as young as seven. According to one study, the number of girls aged eight to twelve who already frequently use mascara increased by nearly doubling from ten to 18 percent between 2007 and 2009.
The birthday gift that R received is another (slightly more disturbing) illustration. On their eighteenth birthday, J. Reynolds Tobacco Company delivers vouchers for their menthol cigarette brand “Kool” and CDs of fresh rock bands to youngsters.
By making items that emphasize the dangers that surround us, businesses prey on people’s worries.
People act impulsively when they’re terrified, as we’ve already discovered, and businesses take advantage of this reality.
For instance, the company Broadway Security produced an advertisement in which a mother is seen cooking supper in the kitchen while completely unaware that a stranger is standing by and watching her kids play in the backyard.
The business succeeded in getting consumers to hurry out and buy its security equipment by playing on their fears. In actuality, sales of their alarm systems rose by 10%.
These clients didn’t pause to reason since fear had them seized. If they had, they would have understood that crime was on the decline and that they were in fact more secure than ever!
Furthermore, businesses frequently use a combination of guilt and terror in their commercials to increase their impact.
That’s because people are more prone to act on their anxieties when they feel guilty and terrified.
In a commercial, for instance, produced by Thai Life Insurance, a dad driving a car suddenly understands that he needs to spend more time with his teenage son. But as soon as he realizes it, a bus strikes his automobile and kills him instantly.
This advertisement works because individuals are not only afraid of dying, but they also feel bad about leaving their children alone if they do.
Businesses also exploit people’s anxiety over changing into someone they don’t want to be.
For instance, people who have undesirable features like weight or baldness are constantly searching for solutions to their problems. Businesses take advantage of this by marketing goods that make their issues appear much worse.
Most of these advertisements feature a person who is extremely unhappy with their problem before the product fixes it. A Flonase allergy spray advertisement, for instance, depicts an unhappy woman stuck inside her home while her family is having fun outside.
She is finally able to get over her issue and join the others outside after using the spray, though.
Products are made to trigger an emotional and physical addiction.
People who are addicted to shopping and things may behave irrationally. Companies develop their products to be as addictive as possible since they are well aware of this.
For instance, food manufacturers add unique chemicals to their products to make them addictive.
In a rat study, scientists discovered that meals heavy in fat and sugar has a brain-damaging effect strikingly similar to cocaine. Both trigger the release of dopamine, and over time, we need more of both to feel the same level of satisfaction as before.
In the study, some rats had food addictions while others had cocaine addictions. Amazingly, compared to drug-dependent rodents, the consequences of addiction on the brain lasted seven times longer in fat rats.
Another illustration of how addictive food can be is the New Zealand woman who grew so dependent on Red Bull that when she stopped drinking it, she had classic withdrawal symptoms like shaking.
Given that one can of Red Bull contains 27 grams of sugar, it should come as no surprise that it can be so addicting!
But not just food manufacturers use addictive chemicals in their products. Consider lip balm, which frequently contains menthol (which is occasionally used to make cigarettes more addictive) and phenol, a carbolic acid that prevents the lips from naturally retaining moisture. Therefore, applying lip balm actually causes the lips to become drier, necessitating the application of additional lip balm.
The ritualistic act of administering the lotion makes it even more addicting. This implies that after using lip balm consistently for a long, it almost becomes automatic and people begin to apply it without realizing it.
To promote their products, marketers create a false sense of peer pressure.
Whether it’s a handbag, a certain model of automobile, or a high-end chocolate bar, we all are aware of “must-have” goods. Everyone wants to partake in nice things, which is why there is such a great desire for these products.
Due to this knowledge, businesses go to tremendous pains to persuade buyers that their product is the one thing they simply must own.
However, how precisely do they create such a buzz?
Customer reviews are one way to do this, as consumers are far more likely to buy something when they know what other people think of it. The best way to understand this is through customer reviews.
For instance, a 2008 survey indicated that nearly half of American shoppers who spent at least $500 and regularly purchased online required to read between four and seven customer reviews before they felt confident completing a purchase.
Even though many individuals are aware that about 25% of reviews are fraudulent, they still want to believe what customers have to say.
Bestseller lists are a further strategy for encouraging people to purchase a given item. People immediately assume that things on these lists must be high-quality since they give the impression that they have been pre-approved by experts.
The albums that are listed in sections like “What’s Hot” and “What we’re listening to,” for instance, on the iTunes start page are frequently not the recommendations of music critics but rather the outcome of agreements with record labels that pay for the start page placements.
However, since people trust the accuracy of those rankings, it is highly likely that well-positioned albums will actually become bestsellers because consumers don’t want to miss out on what looks to be popular right now.
Marketers can evoke a sense of nostalgia with their products through a variety of techniques.
One of the key strategies used by businesses to promote their goods is to appeal to the cozy feeling of nostalgia.
For instance, a lot of businesses reuse old advertising or slogans. For instance, Heinz brought back a 1970s commercial in 2009 with the phrase, “Sometimes when I’m feeling melancholy, my mum will read the signs. She understands that beanz meanz Heinz,” in which mothers were depicted feeding their children baked beans.
With this tactic, the business makes a link between the product and the fond recollections of the past. People’s brains link their recollections of Heinz Baked Beans to all the other happy emotions they had at the time, thus there’s no need for them to have ever consumed the product to make this association.
After this relaunch, “Beanz meanz Heinz” was selected by the Advertising Hall of Fame as the most well-liked catchphrase.
Companies portray their items as being flawed in addition to resurrecting old advertising to evoke nostalgia. To evoke memories of a time when food was created manually and without the use of artificial substances, food companies, for instance, intentionally make their products look unappealing.
Most people enjoy imagining a time when food was freshly prepared rather than being mass-produced because they are sure that everything was healthier and better back then.
Food manufacturers and retailers depict their items with imperfection so that it appears like each one was manufactured separately.
For instance, the author observed the pricey Ghirardelli chocolate being offered as chunks in brown paper bags with dated lettering. This gave the appearance of being individually produced and cut.
But when he purchased two pieces of chocolate, it became evident that they were completely identical in both form and size. The business went to considerable efforts to hide the fact that the chocolate chunks were mass produced.
The main idea of this work is:
Marketers and advertisers are aware of your psychological vulnerabilities. They take use of this information by creating goods that are highly addictive, playing on your need for belonging, as well as your sentiments of fear and nostalgia. You can start making smarter, more logical purchasing selections by learning all there is to know about these strategies.
Hack your nostalgia when shopping.
The next time you go shopping for your go-to morning beverage, consider whether your preference for a particular brand is really a result of habit and nostalgia. If so, it would be a fantastic day to try a new juice brand and maybe even find a better one!
Avoid making impulsive purchases after viewing a frightful commercial. You are more inclined to make irrational decisions when you are terrified. Marketers could exaggerate a problem in an effort to persuade you to purchase their goods.