The Impact of Advertising on Consumer Behavior

By Brittany Cotton

Many people believe that they are immune to the power of advertising, but they may not realize just how subtle the power of advertising truly is. A fabric softener with a flower on it offers the concept of fragrance, but a fabric softener featuring a teddy bear brings with it a sense of comfort that may have a greater impact.


How does advertising affect consumer behaviors?


Part of the reason that advertising is so effective is that it really pushes the tribe mentality. The greatest longing in human beings is the power of belonging. If you smell good, people will want to hang around you, so you buy a particular soap that promises a clean smell. Few products available for hygiene promote a neutral scent. Instead, they push purity or freshness.


Advertising also taps into our competitive natures. Back when all the astronauts were drinking Tang, American schoolchildren were also targeted to ask for it. Part of this was to help them grow up to be healthy and strong, but part of the push was also related to the space race. Drinking Tang might help you be an astronaut, and a good American astronaut could get to the moon before an astronaut from the Soviet Union.


Are people more inclined to purchase things they see advertised?


Whether consciously or unconsciously, yes! If an advertisement is always on during your favorite television show, your brain is going to recognize the product. You may start to hum the jingle, or at least hear it in your head, without realizing it.


Direct television advertising to children is also likely to drive an “I want” urge in your kids. Toys and pre-packaged foods are commonly promoted to children, such as breakfast cereals. Parents may also notice that trips and travel destinations are commonly promoted during the hours that children often watch television. Baby boomers and Generation X adults may not remember the plot lines of Bugs Bunny or Rocky and Bullwinkle, but they remember the leprechaun who told them about Lucky Charms and probably can find that cereal on any grocery store shelf easily.


Even if you don’t sit through commercials, they’re likely to find a spot in your brain. You may never have actually seen a commercial for Oscar Mayer bologna, but people of a certain generation can probably still sing it. The combination of images, representation in advertisements that include children, and music can do a great deal to make commercials stick in your memory.


Advertising and your brain: How colors, sounds and imagery matter


The product to be sold has a huge impact on color. Fresh shades of green are used to sell everything from laundry soap to organic toilet paper. Green is also an interesting background. If we look at the Mint Mobile campaign, which is all over mobile media, we were once told the story of why the blank green screen was used. The marketer was trying to keep costs down, and thus be able to offer a cheaper cellphone plan.


Now an actor in front of a blank green screen announces the message of Mint Mobile with no words at all. Even if you skip the ad, the message is reinforced.


Contrasting colors are also commonly used to market to children. Bright red and bold yellow are often paired on toy packaging. Such contrasts draw the eye of a child. Even babies, who have fairly limited vision in their early months, will be drawn to strong contrasts.


A plain pairing of black and white indicates a generic product offering, but a black and white label on another bold shade offers a solid message to consumers. The Best Choice brand, which is generally considered a generic offering, includes a black and white label that features cursive. Not only is it easy to spot, but it draws the eye of consumers who are a bit older and used to reading and writing in cursive.


Because television has so many ways to connect with the viewer, this form of advertising is still quite effective in inserting a message that lingers in both sight and sound.

Brittany Cotton is a writer who focuses on health, wellness, and a variety of other topics. In her free time, you can find her reading, trying new recipes, or playing with her dog.

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