People often buy for not what the products do, but what they mean
“A need is a basic biological motive; a want represents one way that society has taught us to satisfy that need”.-Solomon. R. To fulfill those needs, products and services are available in the society. With the larger number of products and services that gradually existed in the society, people today have been left with ample choices. The companies and service providers, which can use their skills and qualities to convince and attract consumers, are competitive sellers in today’s business environment. Making their products and services sale for their benefits requires application of specific ways and methods, also called marketing. Marketing is not static and cannot remain the same with changing market environment and varying needs. However, establishing their own brands can help them strategically tap into the market needs and attract consumers in the long run.
Marketing is not purely a management function but it is designed in a way how people want to see their business through consumer’s perspective. The information on human behavior, evolution and genetics has contributed to this field rationalizing the causes and effects of consumer behavior. Traditionally, marketing focused on internal stimuli and efforts on how to satisfy the consumers’ needs such as thrust and hunger. Gradually, the use of external stimuli such as touch, hunger, light and cold was realized of late to be incorporated with marketing.
Current trends show that a growing number of companies are incorporating scents, sounds, material textures and things of external stimuli in order to create strong brands based on based on consumer experience. The use of external stimuli not only establishes stronger connection with the products and services but also triggers drive preference among the consumers for their brands.
Establishing brand is like feeding the images in the human subconscious mind, which could be done through covert marketing, sensory marketing and subliminal messaging, to name a few. Such marketing approach is mostly used and practiced in niche market whereby other multiple stimuli could be triggered at the same time. One of them could be guilt buying. So, can it be argued that guilty pleasure dominates the buying pattern of our majority when dealing with high-end products? Guilty pleasure states that when we feel guilty of making expensive purchases but enjoy the feeling at the same time.
If the need was primary, guilty pleasure wouldn’t come into existence. Rather, fulfilling that need through the most rational judgment process would be activated.
For instance, when a new model of iphone is launched on the high-street, we rush to the outlet and start looking for ways to trade in 5s for the 6. The rationality of our thought for buying is dominated by the outcome of owning the latest gadget purely for status core and guilt buying.
Another relevant example could be the stickers that read ‘my next car will be ……’. Many marketing campaigns do not affect the buying pattern of the consumers on the spot, but they can create a space in their subconscious mind, which could later trigger the consumers through external stimuli.
Before the apple or the car company starts marketing for the new model, it has already planned how the information of their future product will be placed onto the subconscious of the potential buyers.
What can we understand by those examples is, the effects of the brand on people’s perception already exists before the purchase and will always remain in the subconscious mind.
Mostly imprints about the products and services are already stored in our brain in the form of images. Emotions or subject related to that product is being triggered through a conversation with peers or while recommending to a potential buyer. The same feeling is also triggered through billboards, posters, and posts of advertisements. Eventually, it takes a form of perception or statement, resulting in the dominance of the buying decision of that particular product or brand.
The field and use of sensory marketing helps the brands to identify the emotional triggers. Such triggers will again help the human minds to remember and associate the feelings connected with their products and their use before they make a purchase.
So, why do we buy the things that we want to buy? The biggest challenge and interest for the marketers is to find out the behavioral patterns of the consumers. Such pattern makes the emotions or perceptions trigger towards their particular brand or a product.
So, the need of hour in marketing is to incorporate the field of studies such as covert marketing, sensory marketing, and subliminal advertising, which have already gained importance in the international market. That is to say, the field of marketing today has associated with psychology. Hence, the basic root of marketing is to understand people and behavior, and psychology helps to understand them.
Another fuel for thought is, while we are shopping goods, we put in rational mode of ours and make judgments through almost all aspects. However, while buying the high end luxury goods, we focus on outside information, brands, and goodwill of the company, but the product does not matter much, why?
Even we can easily believe in the rationality and become ready to spend a huge chunk of our savings or budget just in the name of the bran. This is an impact of an image built in our minds through perception for the particular product or company.
To make a strong brand, the company requires to work on varied aspects with the motive to form a perception towards their brand that provides the confidence to the buyers for making that purchase. There are six major things to manage a luxury brand. They include advocating beliefs, designing more than a logo, engaging customers, exceptional store experience, forming an exclusive circle and association of legends with the brand.
With the paradigm shift in the consumer buying pattern, activation of senses for marketing needs to be strengthened. Above all, humans process information through all five senses and mostly the inconspicuous cues from the environment have the dominant impact in the decision that we make. For instance, when two people are taking with each other, the messages delivered can only be impactful through the use of nonverbal means such as gestures. The same applies with the marketing here.
The traditional marketing and strategies that our companies focus mostly on attracting the customers by auditory and visual communication alone, cannot help in marking products and services in today’s business environment. Until and unless sensory marketing is incorporated, the brand performance and brand strength cannot be held high. Traditional marketing techniques and styles need to be reinvented. Instead of focusing on target customers in a more personal and individualized way, the focus should be building on brands that will create long lasting relationship between customer and brand. This can be created with the use of creative and distinctive marketing techniques integrated with sensory marketing. Then only, we can change the way we see the world, and experience the world of shopping and buying to the next level.
Head of Department, School of Business, Patan College for Professional Studies.