Lured by images of food lately? Tempted to buy that chocolate bar?
Your subconscious is leading you that way.
You may not realise it but the marketers of the world are playing with your mind. All for the sake of making a profit from you.
It’s the art of consumer psychology and its kinda genius.
Each year bags of money are spent learning how to persuade you to buy. Not because it’s necessarily good for you but because there’s big profit to be made.
There’s even a journal published monthly.
It’s called The Journal of Consumer Psychology.
It frequently includes 10 to 15 new studies.
Have you heard the one where classical music played in a bottle shop actually increases the sale of premium wines?
Or how the dimensions of the supermarket floor tile can slow your pace down so you have more time to buy more things? Something to do with the sound and vibrations of the wheels.
Or how dog food manufacturers found they can differentiate their product by playing to the caring emotion of dog owners through the addition of a tooth cleaning product in dog food?
I mean, what’s wrong with a bone?
The art of consumer psychology can get a little creepy too.
Cameras that follow your eye movements and facial expressions as you shop.
And a little annoying …
Food basics like milk placed at the back of the store so you have to walk past all the items the shop can tempt you with.
And bread at the front of the store, so the smell feeds your subconscious with images of fresh food, makes your mouth water and entices you to buy.
Research conducted by Rachel S. Herz, assistant professor of Psychology at Brown University, even found smells change your mood.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll call out lots of tactics used by the big brands and big stores.
It’s right to be aware of them.
Armed with the know-how, you are less likely to fall prey. Or so you think.
Much of what you think and feel at any moment in time is created subconsciously. You have little control over your subconscious mind.
But the rational mind can help create some balance.
First, let’s take a look at how images of products make a big difference on your buying habits.
Product Images to Bait You
For decades, ads have cheated our eyes using tricks to make products look more appealing.
Computer graphics are helping make the job of illusion easier but many of the older techniques are still around.
Sip Up Time
On a hot day, nothing beats a cool beer.
And nothing beats a beer with a great foaming head. Its enticing. It must be a handcrafted brew. An award winning beer.
So how do they do it?
Well, rub the inside of a glass of beer with a soap solution. It makes the head stand up.
Add some nail varnish to the sides of the glass and voila condensation. You have a picture of the perfect beer.
Anyone for Pizza?
If you’ve ventured into a pizza store recently, you’ll have seen the images on the wall of beautifully, delicious pizza.
Salivating just thinking about it?
That’s the response those images are intended to trigger.
The cheese always looks way better than what you end up with.
There’s a reason why that is so.
To get the best image marketers use shiny, yellow silicone for the cheese.
Ah, so healthy?
Sprayed with hair spray the fruit shines and looks real fresh. So tempting, but should you have so many calories?
Instead of that cake or chocolate bar, maybe you can get away with having a yummy yogurt with no fat?
Most of us know that 0% fat often means the product is full of sugar.
Sugar is so addictive.
In fact, it’s one of the most addictive foods available.
It causes a massive dopamine release in the brain making you feel really good.
But hey. 0% fat must be good, right? At least there’s no fat to ingest.
Even if we know about the sugar, we still want to believe a food product is good for us.
The wording on products is there to help us reason that it is must be good for us.
Take a big brand confectionary company for example.
It goes to extremes to convince us that 98% sugar is good for you.
After all its 100% Fat Free, Gluten Free, No Artificial Colours or Flavours and it’s Dairy Free. Go figure.
It Ain’t Fresh until it’s Sprayed
Spraying vegetables with water or even better, a water and glycerine mix, helps keep vegetables from dehydrating.
They remain hydrated for longer. Which keeps their weight up and in doing so retains their value per kilo.
Yet keeping vegetables and fruit hydrated does not necessarily keep them any fresher, but it does give it the appearance of freshness.
And in consumer psychology, appearances are very important to how you feel about a product.
The chances are you are more likely to purchase a moist and juicy fruit, than a dry fruit.
It looks so much more desirable.
Of course its presentation may look great but its real condition is another thing.
It’s not uncommon for fruit that looked great in the store to be ready for the compost within a few days.
That constant spraying with water removes many of the preservatives and anti-microbe additives that have kept them looking so good for so long.
From metasulphites, pesticides, sodium propionate to methycyclopropene gas – fruit and vegetables are best friends with chemicals.
So next time you are in the supermarket, get to know the people that display the fruit and vegetables. Understand where the fruit and vegetables originated from.
Learn how really fresh the fruit and vegetables are and whether they are in season.
You can be sure that out of season fruit and veg are brought in from overseas or that they’ve been preserved for months. Perhaps some water spray is a good thing after all.
There are lots of examples of consumer psychology at play.
I’ll venture further into the space in future articles but for now, a thought provoker.
A quote from the historian Daniel J Boorstin:
‘The deeper problems connected with advertising come less from the unscrupulousness of our ‘deceivers’ than from our pleasure in being deceived, less from the desire to seduce than from the desire to be seduced.’
Have you ever been taken in by the top tricks of the trade? And how does it affect you? Do share in the comments!