More businesses, marketers, advertisers and retailers have gotten far craftier, savvier and even more sinister. Today, thanks to all the sophisticated technologies they have at their disposal and the new research in the fields of consumer behavior, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, companies know much more about what makes us tick.
In my previous blog on “How Customers Think,” we focused on the way consumers think when they are visiting our salons. With that knowledge, this article is focused on how marketers use that knowledge to get us to buy their products or services. (CLICK HERE to access all of Leon Alexander's blogs.)
They scan our brains and uncover our deepest subconscious fears, dreams, vulnerabilities and desires. They mine the digital footprint we leave behind each time we swipe a loyalty card at the drugstore, charge something with a credit card or view a product online, and then they use the information to target us with offers tailored to our unique psychological profiles. They hijack information from our own computers, cell phones and even Facebook profiles and run it through sophisticated algorithms to predict who we are and what we might buy.
They know more than they ever have before about what inspires us, scares us, soothes us, seduces us, alleviates our guilt or makes us feel less alone and more connected to the scattered tribe. What makes us feel more confident, more beloved, more secure, more nostalgic, more spiritually fulfilled. And, they know far more about how to use all this information to obscure the truth, manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy.
The minute we’re born, we may already be biologically programmed to like the sounds and music we’re exposed to in utero. Shrewd marketers have begun to cook up all kinds of ways to capitalize on this. A few years ago, a major Asian shopping mall chain realized that since pregnant women spend a great deal of time shopping, the potential for ‘priming’ these women was significant. Pregnancy, after all, is one of the most primal emotional periods in a woman’s life. Between the hormonal changes and the nervous anticipation of brining another life into the world, it’s also one of the times that women are most vulnerable to suggestion. So, the shopping mall chain began experimenting with the unconscious power with smell and sounds. First, it began spraying Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder in every area of the mall where clothing was sold. Then, it infused the fragrance of cherry across areas of the mall where people could buy food or beverages. Then, it started playing soothing music from the era when these women were born in order to evoke positive memories from their own childhoods.