Messages, mediums, and your mind
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.