Promotions and Advertising Research

The Feather Effect

”Most effects of advertising fall well short of persuasion. These minor effects are not obvious but they are more characteristic of the way advertising works. But even small effects of advertising can influence which brand we choose especially when all other factors are equal and when alternative brands are much the same.

It is easiest to understand this with low-involvement buying situations. The situation is like a ‘beam-balance’ in which each brand weighs the same. With one brand on each side, the scale is balanced. However, it takes only a feather added to one side of the balance to tip it in favor of the brand on that side. The brands consumers have to choose from are often very similar. Which one will the buying balance tip towards? When we look for advertising effects we are looking for feathers rather than heavy weights”

This article really emphasises the fact that for simple everyday choices advertising can have a huge impact. When there is no real financial gain or personal preference involved the consumer is more likely to choose the product which has the better advertising campaign.

I also think it is a valid point that if we are shown an advert that we like or are indifferent too it makes us more likely to see a product in a more favourable light if we were to research into it further or have it brought up in conversation. Simply having it in the back of our mind makes us view it more favourably than a product or service which we have never heard of.

Influencing People. 2000. Advertising and the Mind of the Consumer. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.aef.com/on_campus/classroom/book_excerpts/data/1504. [Accessed 20 November 13].

Lewis, D, 2004. The Soul Of The New Consumer. 3rd ed. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

The Craze of Singles Day

”Two million bras sold in one hour, making a pile that would be three times higher than Mount Everest!

That was the proud claim from Taobao, China’s biggest online shopping platform, after its busiest day of the year got off to a strong start.

November 11 is China’s anti-Valentine’s Day, a day when young people celebrate being single. But for many, it’s also an excuse to log onto Taobao and other Chinese websites.

Almost all products are sold at half price on major e-commerce websites. In just six minutes after midnight, $164 million was spent on Tmall.com, China’s Amazon and eBay mixed into one.

A few days ago, my roommate asked me what I had stashed in my online shopping cart for Singles’ Day promotions on 11 November. She excitedly showed me what she had in stock: one pair of leather boots and a set of soft sheets.

“Imagine buying these for half the original price,” she said.

Her shopping excitement quickly became dangerously contagious. I found myself watching for the clock to strike midnight on 11 November.

A hiking jacket for my mum, winter boots for my dad; my family’s shopping desires were all channelled towards me.

It would be so easy to make these purchases, I thought, and how nice it would be to pamper my family with just one click on the “pay now” button, and the password for my credit card.

But when the clock finally struck midnight, the payment page was hopelessly jammed.

Alipay busy cartoon

All I could see was a cartoon picture of a frantic cashier girl sweating in front of a crowd of shoppers.

“Sorry we’ve got too many customers; please wait patiently,” the caption said. Then the cartoon disappeared and I got an error page.

It was a funny feeling; half disbelief that I wasn’t able to spend money when I wanted to, and half lingering excitement and desire to spend more money.

Just as I was watching some of the items became “unavailable” in my shopping cart, my roommate ran into my room.

“Why isn’t my purchase going through?” she yelled. I poised myself, and never felt so determined to spend my money.

Luckily, the night ended in peace. We both got what we wanted, with a bit of agitation. I fell asleep hoping I wouldn’t regret what I’ve bought, because honestly, I spent more time plotting how my payment would go through, than thinking about what I was buying.

I’m not single, but I stumbled into the celebration of Singles’ Day alongside hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers. The next morning, when I found out almost $2 billion was spent on Tmall.com overnight, I felt like a foot soldier who had gone to battle in someone else’s war.”

Researching into people’s shopping habits I’ve come across some weird and wonderful things, the most recent being China’s ”Anti-Valentines Day” Not only a day for thousands of Chinese singletons to celebrate their freedom but also a shopping extravaganza with many large Chinese e-tailers halving their prices. The madness that these sorts of sales bring on seems hard to believe sometimes, the strangest part is that the majority of the time we are buying piles of stuff we simply don’t need. The temptation of low prices often proves too much to resist though as we struggle to let half price items pass us by in case we live to regret it. Once the competitive streak kicks in we can’t resist getting that extra bargain or buying the last of a certain reduced item just so we can ensure that nobody else gets it in case we hesitate for too long. The chaos of China’s singles day seems to match that of our boxing day sales, people leave their houses at the crack of dawn to go and hunt down bargains and half price gems they simply can’t resist. The reality is lower prices and crowded atmospheres push us to buy things we neither need nor really want and yet we are still taken in by it. Grabbing a bargain and fighting with the rest of the crowds (online or real) is just too tempting.

After all we might regret it if we don’t buy ‘it’ and we can’t have that now can we?

BBC News. 2013. Singles’ Day – China’s anti-Valentine’s celebration. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-china-blog-24896066. [Accessed 15 November 13].

What Makes People Buy?

Looking more into what makes people buy things I came across this interesting article by Bryan Eisenberg which lists the main reasons why people shop, often for things that they don’t need. The psychological reasons seem to come up more often than pure need and I thought some of these were particularly interesting.

”Prestige or Aspirational purchase – Something is purchased for an esteem-related reason or for personal enrichment.”

Everyone loves to feel better about themselves and if something as simple as shopping can boost our self-esteem then it’s hard to resist.

Emotional Vacuum – Sometimes you just buy to try to replace things you cannot have and never will.”

Particularly interesting I think as people often do use material things to try and replace emotional loss or gaps they feel they have in their lives. This would be a particularly effective point for a marketing strategy to be built around.

Name Recognition – When purchasing a category you’re unfamiliar with, branding plays a big role. Maybe you had to buy diapers for a family member and you reach for Pampers because of your familiarity with the brand, even though you don’t have children yourself.”

Many companies now focus on becoming a household name, trusted by families and passed down from generation to generation to ensure consistent sales, excellent PR and consistently happy customers.

Fad or Innovation – Everybody wants the latest and greatest. (iPhone mania.) This could also be when someone mimics their favourite celebrity.”

The ever present need to be part of something is one of the biggest drivers of luxury sales, its human nature to want to be part of a group and since groups are now being formed around what kind of technology you own or what kind of clothes you buy many people are buying into the social status that comes with a product not just the product itself.

”The “Girl Scout Cookie Effect” – People feel better about themselves by feeling as though they’re giving to others, almost especially when they’re promised something in return. Purchasing things they don’t need–or wouldn’t normally purchase–because it will help another person or make the world a better place incrementally is essential certain buying decision.”

Shopping for a self-esteem boost again, helping others makes the shopper feel good and gives the perfect win-win situation.

Indulgence – Who doesn’t deserve a bit of luxury now and then? So long as you can afford it, sometimes there’s no better justification for that hour-long massage, that pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream, or that $75 bottle of 18-year single malt scotch other than “you’re worth it” (best when said to self in front of mirror with a wink and/or head tilt).”

Very few people can resist occasional indulgence, without indulgence the luxury market simply would not exist, never mind be the multibillion pound industry it is today. Be it expensive clothes, cars, phones, perfumes, we could all make do without but there isn’t any fun in that now is there?

Bryan Eisenberg. 2011. What Makes People Buy? 20 Reasons Why. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.bryaneisenberg.com/what-makes-people-buy-20-reasons-why/. [Accessed 11 November 13].


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