After almost two decades of dabbling with brands and businesses, the one thing that I figured out was that “smart marketing” is the only opportunity left for marketers to discover newer ways to trigger favourable emotional responses from consumers. Those who did or do it usually emerge better favoured than the others.
Having said that, the question remains whether the vast majority of marketers are psychologists? No way, but many successful marketers regularly employ psychology in appealing to consumers. Smart, skilful, honest marketers use psychology legally, ethically and respectfully to attract and engage consumers, and compel them to buy. In my opinion, Psyche Marketing uses the following principles to effectively position their products and services. Let’s take a look:
Emotion ideas. Studies suggest that marketing messages perform better when they emphasize the outcome consumers can achieve with a particular product or service versus a dry list of its components and features. For years together, we’ve seen personal grooming products and financial services and healthcare products and several other categories using “emotional transformation” as agents to appeal. Brands like J&J, P&G, Nestle, SBI, HDFC Bank et al do it and with the advent of social media, I see this playing an even bigger role.
Highlighting flaws. To build consumer trust, address your product’s shortcomings rather than hide them. Despite being an average cigar, “Hamlet” used humour to mask its product delivery across decades. Ditto for whiskeys like “J&B” and scooters like “Bajaj”, these products have taken alternate routes (most favourite, cheapest, easily available, etc.) as planks to promote. I am not sure how this would work in the future but sometimes, appearing honest is a good ploy.
Repositioning competition. Reframe how consumers perceive the competition. Without having to bash them, you can reinforce the idea that your product fills a different, higher value need in your customer’s life, making your offering the obvious choice. The famous “Avis” campaigns on market position, or for that matter a recent one closer home, “Paper Boat” played on the power of positive / happy memories to seriously edge their ways on the minds of millions.
Promotion of exclusivity. Cater to your customer’s ego by making them feel special if they were to purchase your product. A must do for luxury brands and services like hotels, jewellery, watches, shoes and airlines, this age-old formula has often been seen as an “elixir” to create brand positioning. One thing however to note here is the problem of “exclusivity traps”, especially in categories like mobiles and electronics, where the Product / Brand Managers succumb to the “volume vs. value” conundrum (read: Apple).
Introduce fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Now this is where Marketers are going to emphasize and highlight the consequences of inaction. Loss aversion is a powerful psychological principle that can motivate people to purchase your product if doing so somehow helps them avoid any negative outcomes. In the post Covid world, when everyone is a bit shaken up, certain categories such as Insurance, Healthcare, Safety Products / Services etc. will have to use this as their “psyche marketing” tactic.
So the future of Marketing is going to be a lot about “Psyche”. We will see brands unleashing The Happiness Bug, to involving consumers to answer the Why This and not That, or jump aboard The Sharing Bandwagon or making markets believe that it’s All About You, I see neuroscientists being hired by advertising and digital marketing agencies in the short and not so long term.
So watch out consumers, that soup you just selected from the shelf may just have been designed by someone in a Lab Coat, deploying the Pursuit of Happiness principle, using complex synapse response theories, along with everything else!