With the use of multimedia platforms, marketers finance million-dollar campaigns, hire several creative directors with the hope of eliciting an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. By igniting an emotional reaction from the customer, the marketer hopes to attract new customers to their brand; convince new consumers to purchase their product, and even convince existing customers to continue their business with repeat purchases. However, much is dependent on the ability to affect the consumer’s behaviour. Marketing involves tapping into consumer psychology. Although marketing campaigns are dependent on the use of psychology, many businesses remain amiss to the benefits of implementing and considering a psychological component to their advertisements. Before we discuss the possible benefits of implementing consumer psychology, it is very helpful to understand what it involves.

In a description of consumer psychology depicted by Dr. Lars Perner, consumer psychology involves several aspects, including:

  1. How consumers think, feel, and differentiate between alternatives, whether it be products, brands or retailers
  2. How a consumer is affected by socio-cultural aspects
  3. Consumer behaviour while making a purchase
  4. How consumer motivation and strategies are used to arrive at a decision, differs between products that vary in price and level of interest
  5. And finally, how marketing campaigns can implement this knowledge to successfully attract the consumer.

With the use of all the aforementioned, it’s very possible that a marketing campaign can reach consumers using psychology. But how exactly can they implement such ideas?

In an article for Fast Company, Robert Rosenthal a distinguished German American psychologist spent the bulk of his career investigating this question and describes five ways marketers can achieve this:

  1. Run emotion ideas. Studies have proven time and time again that marketing messages accomplish more when they paint a picture of what the consumer will achieve with the product, rather than listing its components and features. Doing this the marketer is essentially creating a new memory map tied to an emotion of hope or excitement, making it much easier to remember.
  2. Highlight your flaws. A large part of attracting or maintaining your current client list is the building of consumer trust, and this can be done by being transparent and addressing your product’s shortcomings, instead of trying to deceive the consumer.
  3. Reposition your competition. In an ethical and non-insulting way, reframe how the consumer views your competition. This can be done by highlighting how your product can offer a benefit for a key customer need, thus making your product the main contender.
  4. Promote exclusivity. Understanding human needs is an important benefit; and by understanding human psychology, you can target your customer’s ego by making them feel special if they were to purchase your brand.
  5. Introduce fear, uncertainty and doubt. Underline the possible consequences of their inaction. Loss aversion is an incredibly powerful motivational tool used in psychology that can be used to persuade people to purchase your product if it prevents negative outcomes.

It’s clear that the possible benefits between the intertwining of marketing and psychology are immense. However, there’s also a very fine line between ethical marketing and non-ethical marketing, especially when it comes to implementing subliminal psychological strategies. Several companies in the early 2000s had attempted to subliminally persuade their consumers into purchasing their product by flashing them a picture of the product below the threshold of human awareness.  However, in recent years, the scientific community seems to be in consensus that this strategy simply does not work. Nonetheless, the practice of psychology in marketing should always take into account the ethical boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed when trying to attract customers.

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1 Comment

  1. It is possible to reach consumers using psychology even working with small businesses and associations with less than 10 full time staff. The five ways described by Robert Rosenthal are accurate according to my almost 40 years as a marketer. Of the average 95,000 businesses created annually in Canada from 2010−2015, approximately 85,270 businesses (or 89.8 percent) had 1−4 employees when they were created (https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/061.nsf/eng/h_03090.html#point2-1) These small businesses cannot afford the multimedia platforms and million-dollar campaigns, and hire several creative directors with the hope of eliciting an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. But they can use ethical tactics using psychology to attract customer. Another thought provoking article by Farah. Let’s hear from you my CIMMO colleagues. What is your professional opinion?

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