We work in the hope of earning more money to consume ever more expensive things we never originally intended to want or need. Why is that? The £2k car still gets us from A to B the same way as the £0.5m Ferrari yet we are psychologically hard-wired to perceive the latter as superior and desire it. The £10 shirt covers our modesty in the same manner as the £300 version yet why do we value the latter more when they both accomplish the same purpose. Our idea of product purpose, value and willingness to pay exorbitant amounts for something incredibly simple is altered on a subconscious level at some point. Does this occur immediately or is it eroded slowly like a cliff face by a relentless tide?
To begin, the sole reason for the advent of money was an enabler for the redistribution of capital for the exchange of goods. Money trivialises our most precious resource by putting an arbitrary value on how we spend our time and what we can redeem for it. This dictates what we can afford to buy with our attention relentlessly sought through increasingly complex advertisement campaigns. The growth of technology and advent of social media has exponentially increased the reach, depth and hold advertisement has on our psyche convincing us to buy products or services we never even realised existed.
Does it Work on you?
You’re probably sitting there doubting the effect advertisement has had on you personally, adamant that you make your own decisions without the external influence of marketing campaigns. You do this while reading these works through your iPhone or android, wearing a Fitbit or apple watch while drinking a cup of diet coke or Nescafe coffee seduced by the subtle unrelenting nudges that have been ingeniously devised to affect your purchasing patterns.
That is advertisements genius. It is not a sudden burst of inspiration that makes you have an affinity with a certain brand. It’s personal aspiration engrained within your own self-image developed alongside your perception of your identity married to the image a brand projects. We align our self with the companies we identify with who have manicured and pruned their image to appeal to a specific spectrum of society. You have then been seduced by that whether you want to admit it or not. Drive an Audi? why? Psychologically you have been conditioned to believe they are representative of who you are. The price is comparable with BMW and Mercedes yet you have declared yourself an Audi driver to the world. You have been hacked to believe you align with the brands vision which has been crafted with that specific purpose in mind.
Advertising boils down to sales. Everyone hates being sold to; feeling like a salesman is exploiting them and taking advantage to force a product on you that you don’t want. Great sales people do this subliminally, accomplishing this by appealing to your subconscious, never arousing your suspicion or raising your defences. This achieves two things. Firstly, it instils an intrinsic trust in the message being delivered, breeding a belief that what you are being told should be believed enabling you to apply to perceived benefits to your daily life. Getting you over that first hump might take time but is essential. Great salesman understand this and establish a rapport; the more complex the sale the longer it takes due to the increased amount of trust that is required.
None of us are immune to being swayed by advertisement, we are all susceptible to the same subtle nudges which cumulatively amount to a significant shift in our intentions and desires. This phenomenon is even stronger in children. If you have kids I’m sure you’ve experienced that shrill high pitched expression of displeasure as you reject their request for the most frivolous of things, a cartoon figurine the size of a pen cap but costing the earth. Children’s desires are tainted less by experience and can be viewed as an unfiltered version of our own wants and needs. Seeing how easy children are convinced serves as a reminder to how easily we were swayed in the past and can be indicative of how far we have come. We haven’t escaped though, we merely prolonged our stay of execution prior to succumbing to the unmerciful advertisements we have implicitly invited into our lives.
It’s always worth being cognitive of the purpose you are being told things. It’s easy to be led down the garden path with the promise of bright lights and shiny new things to be disappointed by the significant lack of quality and purpose of product you discover you end up with.
The Current System is Broken
What enrages me is that multi-national companies are paid tremendous amounts of cash to advertise to me when I have neither invited or permitted it. I am not incentivised in any way to participate in this dance encouraging unnecessary opulence and neither are my family or children. Furthermore, we actually pay for the pleasure to be advertised to by satellite television. We invite this advertisement through our monthly subscription and expose ourselves to this never ending barrage of psychologically altering ‘abuse’.
What if there was an alternative? Would you be interested in exploring what it would entail and how you could benefit? What if instead of being force fed a message you could consume content at your leisure while crucially gaining the opportunity to benefit and profit from your attention. For me, this is the future.
Autonomous vehicles are my personal favourite for consideration. As self-driving cars proliferate the market a captive audience can be acquired incredibly easily. I can foresee a time where transport is heavily subsidised by those who want to get a message to specific people. The internet of things will then allow items to be ordered at a touch of a button from within automatically linking to your smartphone or rerouting you on your journey to acquire the product.
The internet of things is a hugely intriguing opportunity as well. Marketing will infiltrate the home with LED advertisement inside your fridge when it senses product usually in your fridge are running out. Your cupboards will also sense that stocks are dwindling with brands then able to advertise their product as a replacement. In order for this to occur, you will be rewarded with reduced costs incentivising you to participate, the antithesis of today’s methods.
Big data created from the interconnection of devices will enable enterprise to target those most in need ensuring marketing is effective. Think super effective pay-per-click advertisement: appliances are intelligently able to ascertain your requirements. The lower your stock gets the more expensive the advertisement becomes as it becomes more of a necessity to replenish.
The future promises to be the dawn of a new age of advertising, one which benefits the consumer through reduced costs but will continue to play psychological warfare with unconsenting participants. Technology will make our attention more valuable while making it easier to purchase, which is a very dangerous concept. One click purchasing when you see a delicious cheesecake advertised on your fridge as you are in the midst of a desperate search nourishment, I guess I better get used to eating more cheesecake!