Who’s loud? You or the marketer?
I thought I was out of ideas for this section until I noticed Mr Singh carrying his groceries bag full of all the eating stuff that you see in TV commercials. He is our neighbour and has just bought a new car. It’s a big SUV that I have seen in Hollywood action movies of the 1980s and is now a common sight in India’s narrow gullies. I remember seeing Mr Singh twisting his non-existent moustache when he first alighted from the vehicle in front of his house.
While I was trying to understand the logic behind driving a truck-like SUV on Delhi roads, while it was actually meant for offroad experience, I realized that this vehicle now occupies half of my already crammed parking space and I have to manoeuvre my car a lot in order to accommodate his indulgence.
The other day I dared asking Mr Singh about a few apps he used often on his Rs 40,000 mobile phone, and he sheepishly admitted that he had just learnt to unlock the screen.
I got curious. How did Mr Singh or millions of other people like him across the country actually think? Why were they buying things that they really did not want or did not know how to use? I called a few friends in marketing departments of large corporate groups and a few in advertising and media buying agencies.
I learnt some amazing facts. I cannot share them all in this limited space, but can sum it up in one line: for most marketers, consumers are mere subjects that fall in different categories. The marketer’s aim is to influence these subjects and convince them to buy their products. They manufacture products that suit the need, massage the ego and touch some emotional chords – make them feel they will be left behind if they do not have the said product…
I also learnt that people like me, who believe they are alert and conscious consumers, too fall in one category. For people like me, marketers ‘manufacture’ the need. How? Well, if you often watch TV, you must have seen a new vegetables washing liquid that claims to kill possible germs and pesticides. Do I really need it? So you will ask yourself before buying, but will not mind trying it for once and may even get used to it. Oh, do you know that there’s this after-wash conditioner for clothes in the market – I got one free with my washing powder. It claims it’ll retain the ‘new’ look for your favourite clothes. Who knows if these and many such things will become our ‘need’, just like liquid hand-washing soaps! Today, children’s stores are flooded with perfumes, nail paints, sunscreen lotions and make-up, manicure and pedicure kits (for mere 10-yearolds). Do they need them or is it yet another case of manufacturing the need?
I could list a dozen more things that I feel have been created only for the purpose of selling to a particular segment of subjects – consumers. The idea of my writing this is simple. Let’s each one of us to do some self-analysis to find out in which subject/consumer category we fall and also look at the recent things that we have bought. Did we really need those things or did we buy them because we felt a new need to own the same?