The Customer Psychology and Culture module as a whole has been enjoyably eye opening. Learning the different methods that allow sales people and companies to successfully influence and persuade audiences has aided my understanding of my course as a whole.
It has been interesting to learn all the elements and concepts that I am regularly exposed to and label them. Concepts like salience, which we have interpreted into our youtube video, along with fear and guilt as a motivator and altercasting. The module has allowed me to recognise the concepts that I fall victim to and has also allowed me to exploit these concepts for myself in the form of the youtube video. I have thoroughly enjoyed this module and believe it has come in handy in relation to my other modules as well as my everyday life. It will be difficult now to not see when I am being targeted with freebies or when sales people are using a ‘foot in the door’ technique as a way of enticing me into buying.
Here is the link to the youtube video created by myself and my group, in which I believe we successfully acknowledge relevant theories that allow the video to communicate with our chosen risk controller parents. Although the message is subtle, the video pulls at althercasting roles and uses salience to express the damages of smoking.
Cialdini describes the 6 key principles that influence consumers to purchase items.
- Social Proof
All of these principles are used regularly both by sales people and by companies. One that I believe I fall victim to the most is reciprocation and liking. My parents and I take used to take monthly visits to Costco, a store that is well known for its freebies and sample offers. I know for a fact that once I’ve been offered a sample and I like it, I will most definitely ask for another one and then purchase the product. Liking is also a big influence for me, alike to probably a lot of other consumers. A lot of door to door salespeople come around my area at home, if I like the way they look and present themselves, as well as how they express themselves, I am much more likely to keep my door open. Cialdini’s influences have allowed me to label these influences and I feel better for it.
Other influences include social proof, an example of this is when beauty adverts include, “9/10 women agree”. This works as almost reassurance for consumers.Authority is also used regularly, take toothpaste advert for example, they usually feature a dentist wearing a white coat. This signifies authority that consumers are more likely to believe.
What Cialdini doesn’t cover however, is the theory of fear and guilt as motivators. Covered in a previous blog is my interpretation of the subject.
- Cialdini, R. B. (2014). Influence: Science and Practice. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
Tabloid thinking refers to getting complicated issues across to audiences in simple and concise ways. It works by firstly identifying the key issue and then reducing the complexity to one simple widely accepted slogan or truism.
We’re all exposed to ‘tabloid thinking’ everyday in some shape or form; at its most popular, is newspaper tabloids that exploit this concept in order to gain readers. Tabloids often report on simple and interesting stories that are constructively written to be as simple as possible. Tabloid thinking also links in to Rittel and Webber’s theory on wicked and tame problems. Tabloid thinking involves taming stories so they don’t cause fear, doubt or uncertainty.
Tabloid thinking intends to reduce the amount of ‘noise’ in the media as there shouldn’t be too much information as this will cause ‘FUD’ among audiences.
Relating this to life, I believe I am more of a tame thinker, meaning I think there are simple solutions to all problems, which agrees with the theory of tabloid thinking. This is because there should always be identified key issues rather than focussing on every little detail. Those who view problems as wicked are less tolerant of tabloid thinking and believe there are always complications to answers.
As a concept, tabloid thinking really does work and it’s popular in today’s society. Key examples of this are magazines that report on real life audience stories rather than reporting of key facts and figures, that would communicate the same thing. Audiences would rather read about simpler and more personal stories than be exposed to stories that could create ‘FUD’ and could be deemed as wicked.
- Rittel, H., & Webber, M. (1973). Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning. Policy Sciences , 155-169.
In recent years many organisations have been tapping into intrinsic motivations as a way of communicating with their audiences. Fear and guilt have often been pushed onto consumers as a way of altering and influencing behaviours.
Creating fear and guilt is an effective way of altering behaviours, however they are context dependent. A consumer will only be influenced by ads if they feel it effects them directly and will often dismiss the rest. Insurance adverts along with the THINK campaign ads have proved successful when influencing consumer behaviours. The THINK campaign often focusses on drinking and driving and the consequences that could result from this. These ads are successful as we, as consumers, have an inner motivation to keep ourselves safe, and if we can recognise ourselves and our actions within an ad, we are more likely to react to it.
Anti-aging products also use the same tactic but with less serious consequences. Women in their later years often fear time and the stereotype is that they would prefer to look more youthful. With this is mind, organisations are able to exploit this fear and push sales of anti-aging products.
In terms of guilt as a motivator, the theory works the same. Charity adverts rely on guilt to maximise donations as consumers do not wish to see children suffering. The RSPCA and the NSPCC use guilt as a motivator also as they wish for people to donate to their organisations.
Using fear and guilt as a way of influencing consumers very much relies on exploiting negative feelings as a way of promoting ‘feel good’ emotions. I believe that given the right circumstance, consumers can be very susceptive to these ads.
Altercasting is a method of persuasion where a person is cast into another role where it is easier for them to be persuaded or act in desired ways.
There are two types of altercasting: Tact and Manded.
Manded is where we tell someone who they are and who they are supposed to be. Students, for example are branded as students and should be the aspiring future. As a student, I must admit that I act in the ways that I am altercasted as I balance two part time job and I believe that hard work is what I would accepted of my stereotype. Another example for a manned altercast is parents. Once a child has been born, parents are expected to care for the infant and always put the wellbeing of their child above their own. We act in the way that we are expected given our social role.
Tact altercasting is acting in ways that push the person into accepting a particular role. An example of this would also be a parent as they are in charge of educating their offspring. Another example is a doctor. Tact is where two apposing roles must be created; an information giver and an information receiver.
It makes sense to me that altercasting would be adopted in marketing communications as it allows consumers to be placed in a specific role and then act in that way. Seeing an advert in which a woman uses perfume and struts about in a revealing dress, with an attractive man, makes me want to purchase the product as I am placed in the alter that a strong independent female should be.
Cognitive dissonance is the theory of rationalising decisions you have made so you feel less conflicted – A theory that I myself am all too familiar with.
Dissonance occurs in probably every decision that anyone makes, yet there are arguably different levels. There will always be consequences to every decision and it is this conflict of deciding that forms this theory. Most recently for me was purchasing a jacket for £60, knowing that summer is on the way and that I’m a student with low disposable income. Yet I was able to rationalise my choice my convincing myself it suited me and that I would wear it a lot.
Perloff states that people frequently experience difficulty, confusion and conflict when trying to make their minds up and it’s only after the decision has been made that they begin to experience the stress known as dissonance. However, he also states that people are unwilling to change their dissonance behaviour once it begins. My mum is a prime example of this and will refuse to take clothes back to the stores if she doesn’t like them out of fear of embarrassment. This is the type of reaction a lot of consumers have when attempting to deal with and confront their dissonance.
- Perloff, R. (2008). The Dynamics of Persausion. New York: Taylor & Francis Group LLC.
Attitudes are derived from our beliefs and values and ultimately affect our behaviour within society. Attitudes are developed through encounters with social objects, before this happens; attitudes are non-existent as people are not born with them. It can also be stated that attitudes are developed based on the beliefs of others as well. (Perloff, 2008)
Attitudes are in effect, evaluations of circumstances and thus can only be created once we are exposed to specific scenarios.
With increasingly more young people beginning to smoke, it can be argued that kids identify smoking as ‘cool’ and have the belief it will help them to fit in.
Whilst volunteering in Africa, the locals often referred to me as a ‘Mzungu’ which means ‘white person’. This label is considered the highest praise as we are considered rich, powerful and a gift sent to help them. For these Africans, this attitude would have first been developed through a belief that they are inferior. Over in the UK, it is often the stereotypical attitude and prejudice that this inferior belief is shared.
Attitudes then affect our decisions to change and, in relation to marketing, create loyalties to certain ideologies. Based on beliefs and values, consumers become loyal to brands and are often unwilling to change. Incentives must then be introduced to persuade people to change their attitudes.
- Perloff, R. (2008). The Dynamics of Persausion. New York: Taylor & Francis Group LLC.