Mes­sages, medi­ums, and your mind

Consumer Voice - - Editor's Voice -

Thanda mat­lab? We all know what this means and will agree that that was a bril­liant ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign.

I hap­pened to lis­ten to this in­ter­est­ing anal­ogy from a pop­u­lar first-time con­tes­tant at the last Lok Sabha elec­tions, to ex­plain how hard­core mar­ket­ing in­flu­enced the gen­eral pub­lic’s per­cep­tion, think­ing abil­ity, be­hav­iour and ac­tion. It’s no se­cret that mes­sages or mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion con­tent are be­ing man­u­fac­tured in the of­fices of some of the lead­ing agen­cies by some very smart, cre­ative and sharp minds, for these to be then dis­sem­i­nated through hordes of medi­ums day in and day out, pop­ping up be­fore you on your screens, hoard­ings, pa­pers, mag­a­zines, ra­dios, news stories, so­cial me­dia, and so on, and al­most all the time. While those pop-ups may go af­ter some time, the mes­sage re­mains there in your mind, in your sub­con­scious, for good, bad or worse. All that it needs to pop up again (this time in your mind) is a stim­uli, a rel­e­vant trig­ger.

Ever thought what is the job of be­hav­iour con­sul­tants, data an­a­lysts, psy­chol­o­gists and so­cioe­conomists at large ad­ver­tis­ing firms? Well, they are al­most all the time strate­gis­ing ways to un­der­stand con­sumer be­hav­iour – your be­hav­iour – and then cre­at­ing pow­er­ful mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion that grad­u­ally in­flu­ences your buy­ing de­ci­sions. This is a craft that cor­po­rate brand pro­fes­sion­als have mas­tered to nearper­fec­tion – your re­mem­ber­ing brand names, their taglines, their lo­gos and their ads is tes­ti­mony to the mar­keters’ suc­cess.

Google with the key­words ‘con­sumer be­hav­iour’ and you will find thou­sands of re­searches, the­o­ries and stud­ies in­di­cat­ing how the minds of the masses can be per­suaded to think alike and how their de­ci­sions can be swayed.

On the con­trary, when I Googled to find ways to keep my­self away from such in­flu­ence or to de­velop the abil­ity to see through mass mes­sages and read be­tween the lines, I found noth­ing apart from a few ar­ti­cles by a hand­ful of think­ing peo­ple. No re­search, study, the­sis or pa­per that talks about pro­tect­ing con­sumers from largescale mar­ket­ing cam­paigns could be found. There do ex­ist some stray ar­ti­cles in­sist­ing on the need for mass/con­sumer aware­ness, etc., but they too do not elab­o­rate on the long-term im­pact of the con­stant ‘mar­ket­ing’ noise around us.

The fun­da­men­tal point I am try­ing to raise, or rather a ques­tion that I want to pro­pose, is whether con­sumers are pay­ing as much at­ten­tion to mar­keters as mar­keters are do­ing with them. Are con­sumers ‘con­sciously’ al­low­ing mar­keters to get into their minds and play with their vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties? Are con­sumers aware that they are mere sub­jects di­vided de­mo­graph­i­cally by statis­tics on sales pre­sen­ta­tions?

I think the ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple in In­dia are yet to reach that level of aware­ness and con­scious­ness. To be sure, we have moved a bit ahead in terms of check­ing ex­piry dates and re­tail prices, but there’s a long way still to cover, to reach that level where the av­er­age In­dian will ques­tion the ethics, moral­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity of cor­po­rate brands.

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