Marketing the Recession

question_mark_3dAdvertising has always used psychological research to sell us stuff. So why does it feel particularly offensive to me these recessionary days? Maybe it’s because everything from behavioral economics to the psychology of guilt is put into service to prop up consumer demand at a time when so many of us are feeling the pinch. We see signs that tout 40% off so we don’t focus on the 60% we still have to pay. Or more, if the purchase goes on a credit card.

Pop quiz:
a. It’s patriotic to spend now. We’re a consumption based economy, after all!
b. C’mon! It’s overspending that got us into this mess.
c. Of course businesses have adapted their sales pitches! Isn’t that the point?
d. Understand how advertising and marketing work, and you’re not really influenced by them. (think medical sales reps).
e. All of the above

Talk about ambivalence! Well, that ambivalence (or is it polyvalence?) is being put to fascinating use these days. Two of the latest:

There are plenty of things to feel guilty about in life…
Buying this dress is not one of them
.” – Lord & Taylor

These days, even a $3 ATM fee is an unnecessary expense. Do something about it. Talk to Chuck.” – Charles Schwab Bank

Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

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