Once a person understands something, it holds less power over them. Specifically, advertising.
So many tricks in this trade that most people don't notice, yet they feel the pull to buy a certain brand/product over another.
By taking some time to expose the tricks of advertising I hope to help you make better buying choices and save some money along the way.
I was just flipping through the flyers last night when I came across a sale on laundry soap. Now since I make my own (you can find my link on how you can DIY laundry soap here) I was in no way tempted by the sale. But I did notice that the store had a limit of four bottles of laundry soap per customer.
We might guess that the limit is put in place by the store as a way to be fair to customers and make sure one person doesn't grab up all the savings for themselves.
That's exactly what the store wants you to think. But lets be honest, gentle readers, when have you known large corporations to put the fairness of who saves money over their interest in profit? They want to sell as many bottles of laundry soap as possible, so who cares who buys it? By imposing a limit of four they have created the perfect selling environment.
People usually do not go into a store and buy four bottles of laundry soap at a time. But with a "limit" customers feel that they must buy four. After all, its such a great deal how can they afford NOT to buy four? Often times (but not always) the deal on the limited product is actually not that great, but the limit makes you feel like you better get it now or you'll miss out. The limits are always higher than what people would typically buy in one shopping trip, but never so high that people would not max out their limit- when have you ever seen a limit of 22 bottles of laundry soap?
So there it is. A limit is imposed to make you feel the store is being fair, courteous and friendly- and all the while the limit is there to drive up sales from one bottle of laundry soap to four.
Right side of the screen
In every television commercial split screen comparison of two products, the one they want you to buy is featured on the right side of your screen. The right side weighs more "heavily" in the mind. We read from left to right and therefore tend to linger on the right side of the screen once our minds figure we have taken in all required information from the left side.
Moreover there is a rather distinctive biblical factor at play here. Oh yes, gentle readers, the bible is used in advertising more than you can imagine- but I will get into that in a minute. In the bible Jesus sits to the right of His Father. Right is "good" while left is "bad". This is the same mentality that had little children being forced to write with their right hands even though they were left handed, not that many years ago.
Showcasing the product advertisers want you to buy on the right side of the screen is a very simple technique, but also very effective and one not made by accident.
Colour is used to invoke feelings and thoughts in ways you may never have thought.
In TV commercials the set and the wardrobe of the actors almost always co ordinates with with colours of the product packaging. This makes us feel that the product "fits" in our everyday lives.
Colour is also well thought out in packaging. It makes sense when packaging an item intended for children to use bright primary colours. But have you ever noticed how processed foods are usually packaged with the most- the brightest- colours? This is because we know logically that when it comes to food the more colourful the meal the healthier it is. Sure once you dump the bag of potato chips into a bowl, or cook and serve the pizza pockets they are no longer colourful- but you've already bought them by that point.
Making the packaging colourful helps us feel as though we have made a healthier decision than we have when picking these products up.
Product claims that don't mean anything
You've heard lines like "No brand out performs this brand". Think about that one- they are not saying their product works better, only that it works equally as well as another one. Working equally as well is really nothing to brag about. It likely means they are using the same formula/materials as a less expensive brand and packaging it differently. Yet it sounds like they are claiming to be the best without the legal ramifications of making such a claim. Tricky.
What about "Made with white meat" when advertising a processed chicken product? They are not saying the product is 100% white meat, you just make that assumption based on the product claim. What they are really saying is that SOME white meat was included in the making of the product. Same goes for "made with real cheese"- real cheese is included somewhere on the ingredient list, but that does not necessarily mean its made only with real cheese.
We need to be careful with what we assume a product claim means.
Once you touch a product you are several times more likely to buy it. So the scratch and sniff sticker on the fabric softener is more than a way to get you familiar with the scent. You have to pick up the bottle, scratch the sticker and lean your face and nose right in against the product. You have formed a bond, as silly as it sounds, with this bottle of fabric softener. Nah, you wouldn't trade your family for it, but you have spent more time interacting with this bottle than any of the others on the shelf. Not only will you likely buy that brand you will buy THAT bottle, The one right there in your hand that already feels familiar to you
Same idea for mailed out samples. The whole notion originated from a charity. The charity had noticed a decline in donations so what they did was send out return address stickers to people who had donated to them in the past. Once people received these stickers, and found value in them, they felt a desire to "pay" in some way for them. The charitable donations came flooding in. This particular charity still uses this highly effective approach to this day.
Its the very same idea behind the free samples passed out in the grocery stores.
Its wonderful to have the opportunity to try before you buy. Yet know that shop talk for this approach is "try and buy" not "try and cross our fingers someone might buy"- they know that once you try for free most people feel an ingrained obligation to buy.
Biblical references are everywhere. Where else could one expect to see golden arches besides the world dominating fast food chain- guarded by St. Peter as the gates of heaven of course. The old beer slogan "I Am. Canadian" - direct biblical reference. Notice that the slogan is not "I am Canadian." That punctuation changes everything and is no accident. In the bible when God is asked who He is, He responds by saying "I Am." The beer company simply included their brand name at the end of their claim of being divine.
Referencing bible stories, quotes and imagery are not designed to tug just at the hyper religious. Almost all of us are at least lightly familiar with the bible and the stories contained within- regardless of our religious convictions or lack thereof as the case my be. Due to high awareness, biblical references create a feeling of familiarity which is very soothing and incredibly powerful.
Some products are wonderful and totally worth their cost. I hope this blog will help you, my gentle readers, to make that call based on the products performance and its relevance to your life rather than based on the success of the advertising campaign.