A good marketing strategy is a key element of success for a company. If used correctly, advertising has the potential to increase sales and establish brand awareness, thus allowing the business to grow its profits. For decades, marketing researchers were performing studies to determine the most effective marketing strategies and develop new ones, with increased efficiency. Today, marketing has extended to all areas of people’s lives: we see advertisements on television, social media, as well as in the streets and shops. The survey I performed as part of this project indicates that the majority of people see the product’s quality as the most important factor affecting their decision to buy a certain product.
Out of 38 participants that were asked a question “What is more important in deciding to buy a product?”, 17 people answered “quality,” 10 chose “price,” 6 people stated that quantity was a major factor, and 5 people chose “packaging.” According to the results of the survey, a successful marketing strategy should emphasize only the quality and price of the product. However, in reality, effective marketing is built out of many components. The advertisement affects customers’ decision-making processes by influencing certain aspects of their psychology, such as memory and subconscious thought. In this paper, I aim to further explore the impact of advertising on the customers’ decision-making processes, as well as to address the key areas of marketing research that focus on improving the efficiency of this influence.
The two key areas in marketing research include determination of the factors that are more likely to generate the desired effect, i.e. persuade the customer to buy the product, and the exploration of clients’ behavior to predict marketing outcomes.
Product Marketing Decisions
The first type of marketing research is usually based on identifying the relationship between different kinds of variables. Taylor explains that a dependent variable is marketing is the variable that responds to changes in other variables, whereas an independent variable is a factor that influences the dependent variable (par. 2-3). For example, if marketing research is focused on the impact of a new packaging color on the popularity of the product among the customers, the independent variable would be packaging color, whereas the dependent variable would be the sales of the product. If the new packaging color is indeed useful, the researchers will expect a rise in its sales; if the sales do not grow or begin to decrease after the new color of packaging has been introduced, this means that the proposed change is counter-effective, and a different improvement should be made to promote the product to customers. Marketing studies thus become a critical stage in marketing decision-making, as they help to determine the most efficient directions of change, thus helping the business to grow its revenues and promote the brand.
This area of marketing research explores the behavior of the customers and uses theoretical knowledge obtained in the studies to develop more effective marketing strategies. One of the major subjects in consumer behavior studies is the reason for purchasing. For example, the economic model of buying behavior states that the main factor influencing the consumer’s decision to buy a particular product is the perceived cost to benefit ratio (Jisana 37). Here, the cost and quality of the product become the independent variables influencing the sales. According to the psychoanalytic model, however, the customer’s buying behavior is governed by his or her conscious and subconscious mind (Jisana 37). By this theory, a hidden symbol in the company’s logo could become the independent variable, whereas brand popularity could represent the response or dependent variable.
Another aspect of marketing research is concerned with exploring certain patterns in the target audience’s behavior that may be addressed in the advertising strategy of a product. For example, past studies proved that supermarket customers are more likely to buy products that are located at their eye-level, which is why more expensive products are usually located on mid-high shelves, whereas the cheapest products are placed closer to the floor (Young par. 12).
This conclusion was also made by studying the relationship between the variables, such as product location and sales. Other studies found that placing essential products closer to the end of the shop will result in higher sales, as the customers will spend more time looking around the shop before they find what they came for in the first place (Young par. 5). Marketing research to prove this theory could examine time spent in the shop as the dependent variable influenced by the placement of essential products.
Marketing and the Human Mind
In recent years, there has been a major improvement in the studies of the human mind. For marketing researchers, this meant more opportunities to evaluate not just the factors in advertising that impact the consumer’s decision-making processes, but also how exactly this process works. Studies in these areas have provided explanations of the impact of advertising on the buying behavior of the customers and created opportunities for further development of marketing strategies.
The subconscious mind affects most aspects of our conscious behavior, which makes it one of the influencing forces in the decision-making process. Some argue that the impact of the subconscious can at times be much more profound than the effect of rational thoughts. For instance, whereas many customers state that they make purchase decisions based on cost and brand comparison; however, studies proved that this is usually not true: customers tend to make many decisions spontaneously and pay preference to the products of a particular brand without trying other brands’ alternatives (Green par. 10).
Many advertisements are composed in a way that imprints the product or brand into our subconscious in a way that makes us associate the brand with popularity, quality, or best value, even if these messages are not conveyed in the advertisement (Green par. 8). For instance, in a British Airways’ advert, the efficient use of pleasant music made customers feel relaxed and comfortable, and these feelings are the key to the great travel experience, which is why the advertisement was effective, even though it did not mention the airline’s scale or service (Green par. 16).
Addressing the consumer’s memory can also be an effective way to improve brand awareness and increase the sales of a product. A catchy brand slogan, for example, can make a customer remember the name of the brand, prompting him or her to prefer that brand to those that are less familiar. Simple melody, to which the company’s phone number is sung in a radio ad, can stay in the customer’s head for weeks, and when the need for a certain service they provide arises, he or she will be more likely to call the number instead of searching for competitors. Therefore, memory plays an important role in the buying process, which is why extensive studies were focused on determining how advertisements can become more efficient through the use of memory.
According to Meredith, five characteristics make ads memorable: humor, relatable characters, a simple storyline, conversation, and emotion (par. 2). For instance, an advertisement that has made a customer laugh will most likely be remembered for longer than other ads seen during the same day. Moreover, the customer may discuss the funny ad with his or her friends, which will spread the brand and product awareness around the community. If posted online, a funny advertisement may also receive many comments and shares on social media, which is also effective if Internet users are among the brand’s target customers.
An advertisement that makes viewers feel certain emotions are also effective in the promotion of the product (Kumar and Raju 38). However, the marketing teams have to be wary so as not to incite any unfavorable emotions, such as anger or sadness. Strong emotional advertisements evoke positive feelings by portraying relationships between family members, lovers, friends, and so on. Meredith refers to an example of Wendy’s fast-food chain advertisement, which features the daughter of the founder Dave Thomas (par. 4).
The strong family bond between Thomas and his daughter Wendy is evident throughout the ad, as she speaks fondly about memories of him and the beginning of the restaurant chain, while at the same time praising the freshness of the produce (Meredith par. 6).
A strong emotional story can also be observed in the Christmas advertisement of Edeka, a German supermarket chain. In the video, an old man dies, gathering the big family over his house for his funeral. As his children and grandchildren arrive, they find out that he is not, in fact, dead, but faked funeral messages to ensure that the family celebrates Christmas together. The story is indeed touching, as it makes the viewer think about his or her relationship with parents and family members. The advertisement was very useful and spread all around the Internet not just in Germany, but all over the world, increasing brand awareness worldwide.
Conclusion: Effects of Marketing
The end goal of any company’s marketing strategy is to address the customers’ decision-making processes, persuading them to buy their products. One frequent effect of good marketing is irrational behavior when customers buy products they do not need or want (Kumar and Raju 45). Advertisement can help the brands to build or restore a reputation for quality, thus improving its products’ quality in the eyes of the customer and promoting positive decision-making outcomes (Rao and Rao 15). Moreover, marketing can decrease the feelings of risk, when the customers feel like they may not be satisfied with the product they bought (Gîrboveanu et al. 897). All of these effects on decision-making are the result of a combination of influences that marketing has on the consumers’ mind, which is why further marketing research and application of effective practices is essential for any company to raise its sales and attract more customers.
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