PROBLEM #17: Understanding the Impetus Behind Advertising, and How Commercials Influence Consumer Behavior.
How many times has this happened to you? You’re in the middle of your favorite TV show (“Shark Tank”, “MacGyver”, and “Last Man Standing” are favorites in our house), and during a suspenseful point in the episode, the show cuts to a commercial break.
If you said – “Every time, there are always commercials”, you would be right. And just like you, I hate it too. But, how often do you watch a commercial and think – I really need one of _____- fill in the blank? In other words, how often do you act on the commercials that you see? I’ve often wondered, who buys all this stuff? Do commercials influence consumer behavior or do they just fill time? How can people afford a Lexus for Christmas and a Lincoln for President’s Day (who buys stuff just because it’s President’s Day anyway?)I know this is not a PROBLEM that we can control (unless you don’t watch TV). But we can understand why commercials influence consumer behavior, and how to adjust our thinking to combat them.
No matter what Matthew McConaughey says, I don’t think I’m missing much by not buying a new Lincoln.
The Purpose of Commercial Advertisements (Commercials)
So why do companies spend so much money advertising on TV? They must be making money somehow, Right? The truth is: They are making money. They’re able to charge more for identical products because of their brand. They’re creating brand identity. When you see a Cadillac, or someone says that they just bought a Cadillac, what comes to your mind? “Wow, they must be doing well.” Or, “I wonder they do for a living that they can afford a Cadillac? I wish I had the money they have.”
Is a Cadillac really worth the money you spend on it? Of course it’s a good quality car. And I’m sure Cadillac would tell you that it IS most definitely worth every penny. But in reality, you’re buying the brand. You’re spending money not only on a good quality car, but you’re also spending your money for the name recognition. How many of us want that feeling of – I have something that is prized and coveted? That’s what you’re paying for. When you see those commercials, you may not necessarily go and buy a car the next weekend. But you do build a perception in your mind that a Cadillac is worth the money and the status that goes with it. The same can be said for BMW and Jaguar. These companies pay for the commercials in order to realize long-term returns. Brand identity takes time.
Commercials Influence Consumer Behavior
This post is not necessarily about luxury cars. The same thinking can apply to other consumer goods as well. Think about jeans. What brands come to mind? Lee, Wrangler (remember Brett Favre? – real . . . comfortable . . . jeans), Guess?
What about fast food? Sonic, McDonald’s, Burger King, or Arby’s (“We have the meats.”) These companies are building a brand. This brand will keep people (consumers) – like you and I – coming back time and again for a product we think is superior (whether it actually is or not). That’s the point of all those seemingly annoying commercials. We remember them whether we intend to or not. We can’t help it. But when it comes down to it, we can help where we spend our cash.
Why are we purchasing one brand over another?
So now that we are armed with this information, what should we do? Should we stop buying name-brand merchandise? No, not necessarily. We need to evaluate why we are purchasing one brand over another. Is it really worth more than another brand? In some cases; it may very well be. In other cases, we may be caught in the trap of over-paying for an inferior product just because we recognize it from a commercial. Be a savvy consumer. Don’t buy something for the supposed Status that it offers. Resist the urge to pay a little more, just because of the brand. Research and know the product you are buying.
Remember this the next time you get annoyed at commercials on TV or the radio.
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