Advertising Strategies and the Subconscious Mind

October 10, 2019
Advertising companies are playing with your mind and your emotions! In this article, discover how to not fall into the trap of different advertising strategies.

Sales are one of the keys to maintaining the social dynamic we’re immersed in. In order to encourage us to buy, we’re constantly bombarded with ads. We can’t see more than 10 or 15 minutes of television without seeing them. We also find them on the street, in the subway, and on the Internet. And yet many people don’t understand the effects of advertising strategies on our unconscious.

One of the most amazing rules that marketing is based on is that people tend to buy without really thinking about why they do it. Research shows us that many of the products we buy are results of impulsive acts. In other words, we rarely make a conscious choice about what we spend our money on.

For most companies, the whole focus of advertising is on awakening our instincts and our desires. Because of this, in today’s article, we’re going to talk about the most common strategies. This should help you discover the effects of advertising strategies on the subconscious.

Why do advertising strategies focus on the subconscious?

One of the most important discoveries in social psychology is the elaboration likelihood model in the field of persuasion. According to this theory, for which there’s a huge amount of evidence, people can be convinced in two ways. While one depends on the rationality of the message, the other has to do almost exclusively with our emotions.

What decides whether you use one way or the other? Apparently, the choice is related to the mental resources you devote to thinking about the subject. If you have the capacity and desire to reflect on something, then the companies will have to persuade you rationally. However, if you can’t or don’t want to think, then your emotions will dictate what you choose.

People being manipulated by advertising strategies.

By studying this model, advertisers around the world have discovered that we don’t usually want to spend a lot of time thinking about what we buy. If you need a washing machine, for example, then you won’t normally have a list of pros and cons in order to choose the best model. On the contrary, you’ll tend to choose the first one that catches your attention.

Because of this, for decades, companies have decided to focus their advertising on the subconscious. If they manage to awaken certain emotions in you, they know that their sales will increase. They’ll achieve this regardless of the actual quality of the advertised product.

Common advertising strategies to sell using emotions

Although consumers don’t usually realize this, nearly all companies are aware that our emotions affect what we buy. Because of this, most advertisements have a number of common features designed to exploit this reality. We’re going to look at two of the most common ones:

1. Associate the product with your well-being

Have you ever wondered why ads always contain so many happy people? As research shows, the answer is very simple: happiness sells more than objective data.

If you stop to think about the marketing and advertising around you, you’ll realize that, in general, there’s very little information about the actual products. When we see publicity about a car, it’s not as common these days to talk about its power, technical characteristics, or the quality of its components.

On the contrary, the focus is on the driving experience, the social status it’ll give you, or how happy you’ll be driving that particular car.

The next time you see an ad, ask yourself the following: what positive emotion does the seller want to associate with their product? If you discover it, then you’ll be one step closer to controlling the effect of advertising on your subconscious.

A smiley face post it note.

2. Exclusivity

One of the most important principles of persuasion is limited availability or exclusivity. This argues that when you think that something is a very limited edition, or difficult to find, then you’ll want it much more. This happens to all of us with objects, people, jobs, or experiences.

Advertisers are perfectly aware of the power that exclusivity has over our brain. Therefore, one of the most common marketing strategies is to show that your product is totally exclusive, or that you’ll save money by buying it on specific days. This way, buyers feel that they’re getting a great deal when making the purchase.

Perhaps the most obvious example of how this principle is used is Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. This brand has managed to classify its products as exclusive, or alternative, in our subconscious. Because of that, millions of people have an iPhone or a MacBook today.

However, Apple isn’t the only company that takes advantage of these subtle strategies. From cars to clothing brands, sales often go up simply by advertising them as exclusive.

Think more consciously

Of course, the two principles mentioned aren’t the only effects that marketing has on our mind. However, they’re two of the most common. To avoid falling into the trap, the only solution is to think more consciously about what you’re going to buy. If you look at rational data and not your emotions, you’ll be able to mitigate a huge part of the influence of advertising on your subconscious.

Editorial Note: In this article, when we use the term subconscious, we aren’t referring to the part of our mind that our consciousness can’t access. Consciousness can access the subconscious, but prefers to ignore it in an attempt to spend as little energy as possible when making a decision.