Marketing can be stealthy and subversive

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 27, 2009

By Ed Hirst
Rowan Public Library
In the book “Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are,” by Rob Walker, states that it is marketing mayhem in the marketplace today.
Walker is a journalist who writes the weekly “Consumed” column for the New York Times. He calls today’s marketing subtle, subversive and murky. And murky is a stealthy way to sell.
The majority of consumers say that brands and logos mean nothing, that they buy goods based on a number of factors such as prior experience, friends who recommend a product, quality, cost and convenience.
Walker doesn’t agree though. “There are probably more pretty good products being sold in America now than at any time in history. This is a tribute to progress, but it both complicates our decision-making as consumers,” he writes, and makes it difficult for one product to stand out.But contrary to the belief that today’s short-attention-span consumer is impervious to marketing, and that big brands no longer matter, Walker argues that marketing methods are stronger than ever, just harder to spot. It’s what he calls “murketing.” “We live in a world defined by more commercial messages, not fewer.”It’s not just about what a product is made of or what it’s supposed to do, nor is it just about a brand image invented by experts and foisted on the masses, which swallow it whole. Any product or brand that catches on in the marketplace does so because of us: Because enough of us decided that it had value or meaning and chose to participate.”How much do we know about why we buy? What really influences our decisions to buy? Or do the buying decisions we make take place below the surface, so deep within our subconscious minds we are barely aware of them?
Could a brain scan reveal what products a person prefers to buy? It’s called neuromarketing, and it’s the subject of “Buyology: Truth and Lies about Why We Buy,” by Martin Lindstrom. In the book Lindstrom reveals the findings of his three-year study that peered inside the brains of 2,000 volunteers.
The research in “Buyology” points to a vital trend: Marketers are feasting on new streams of customer data. They can track our wanderings on the Internet and our purchases at the supermarket, and they can start to predict an individual’s behavior.
You can find these and other books about why we buy at Rowan Public Library.
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