Manipulative Marketing

How we are manipulated into spending money on products.

Buying more - consuming more

The more of something is available, the more people consume it. If pots contain more ice cream, if cups contain more cola, people will consume more of it. If a product is on special offer, people buy more of it, and will then consume more of it.

This greedy strategy of manipulating people into eating and drinking more and more, of course causes people to swell up. For most people, it's not so that everything that they put into their mouth gets discarded at the other end. People get fat, which in turn causes them to get unhealthy and depressed.

Sugar, salt and fat

To sell foods, often sugar, salt or fat are added. These are not healthy additions, but they do make people eat more.

Another strategy marketeers use, is selling big containers (often next to smaller ones). The big containers may be cheaper per amount sold, however people tend to consume or use more of it. So, the producer gets to sell more. Of course, in the case of foods, you get fatter as a result.

Special offers tend to have a similar effect. When something is cheaper for a limited time, you buy some stock of it. Because you have more of it, you'll use more of it, and the producer is selling more. An added advantage for the producer is that it reduces interest in what the competition has to sell.

Attractive packaging

Packaging is very important. Attractive packaging, showing the product in a favorable way, makes people buy products easier. Although a photo on the packaging that's supposed to show the product is, in fact, something quite different, it does make the product sell, while deceiving the buyer. The pizza in the box may not contain as much salami, and may not look, nor taste as good as how it looks on the photo.

Making it easy to take a product out of the packaging makes it easier to consume it.

The more of a product is available, the easier it is to get hold of it.

Witholding the price

When you're informing about a product, a sales person, or a website, may withold the price. Not until you have almost decided to actually buy, will you learn the price.

Marketers do this, to have you convinced about the advantages of a product, before deciding whether you want to pay the price. How you perceive the value of the product will then be at the highest point, so you will then be willing to pay the highest price possible. And you may also have already decided to buy before knowing the price.

But you may want to know beforehand whether a price fits in your budget. When a price is witheld, you know that the marketer is concerned that you may find it too expensive.

Cheap basic things, expensive extras

A couch may not be that expensive, but you may find that extras like higher support, or cleaning stuff are. I have found that the leather cleaning set a store offered, could be bought for less than half the price elsewhere.

Cheap apparatus, expensive supplies

Printers, and razor holders may come cheap, but when you need to buy extra printer ink and razors, this may show to be quite expensive. In some countries cell phones come very cheap or free, but the subscription is expensive.

Expensive equals good?

When something is unusually cheap, there may be a problem with its quality. It may not last very long, and most people realize that. That may lead you to believe that when something is expensive, it has high quality, but, in fact, that often is not the case.

Marketers may want you to believe that a product has high quality by making it more expensive than similar products, when it really is not. The taste of expensive food may not be better than of cheaper food, an expensive tool may not last longer than a cheap one, and expensive clothing may not fit better than cheaper clothing.

Satisfied for a limited time, buying again and again

It seldom happens that you buy a product you need only once. After some time it won't satisfy you anymore, because it wears out, or doesn't fit with new fashion. You'll get dissatisfied, and buy a similar product again. You'll need new shoes again, whether that is because holes have gotten into the soles, or they look old fashioned now.

The shorter the life span of a product, the more often you'll need to buy a new one. And the more often you buy something, the more you spend on it, and the more revenue companies make with the product.

This not only means that it is more expensive to you, but also that there's a bigger pressure on the environment. Now that we see more and more environmental issues diminishing the quality of our lives, it is better to use products that last longer.



If you'd like to go deeper into this topic, these books might be of interest to you: