Buying Crap you Don’t Need: How Advertising REALLY Works
It happens to the best of us, all the time: we go to the store to buy ONE thing, and leave with a plethora of crap that we simply don’t need. It’s part of why 80% of Americans are in debt. Our economy is based on consumption, and advertisers can’t get you to spend your money fast enough. Advertising, which is basically a nice word for “brainwashing”, is a science. Companies spend billions each year to ensure that you have an absolute desire to purchase their products, but how does advertising work?
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The average person is exposed to over 3,500 adds a day. They are everywhere from billboards and banners to the packaging of products that we’ve already purchased. Go ahead, flip over that box of crackers and see if there isn’t an ad on the back for another product from the same company. Creating the mentality that “oh, these crackers were delicious – but these other crackers could be better.”
Being aware of the advertising around us isn’t the same thing as understanding how they work. If awareness is the first step in prevention, then being aware of the psychology behind some of the most effective marketing techniques is the real way to prevent overspending on products that you simply do not need. Look around your house or office and think about all of the things that you have purchased thinking that they were the greatest thing you’d ever seen, that have been collecting dust from the day you brought them home. I did it, and it’s kind of scary.
Read: Why Coffee Works: The Science Behind the Greatest Addiction Ever (and When to Drink It)
Advertisers create the impression that your life is incomplete without their product. I know it sounds slightly naive, or even blazingly obvious to point that out, but it is true. The following video from AJ+ featuring a real-life ad executive, Jonah Sachs, demonstrates the 4 main ways that advertisers get us to spend money we don’t have on stuff we don’t need. Sachs, who is the co-founder of Free Range Studios, goes into the psychology of how advertisers essentially make people think “You suck, and if you don’t buy this product, you’re not going to be rich enough, smart enough, hot enough…”