How many people have you met who are proud they do not own an Apple iPhone or iPad?You know the type. They disregard the slick designs and marketing and focus on the technical and functional characteristics of products.
But if you are one of the many millions of iPhone owners you might be more willing to admit you simply like the look and feel of your device. If you didn’t care about appearances you would be more than happy to scroll through a basic checklist of apps rather than navigating through colourful buttons.These preferences extend to your home too.
Open your pantry and you will find an assortment of brands that probably taste exactly the same as a generic product. Your television might have looked just as good if you purchased a lesser brand, so long as you weren’t aware it wasn’t really a Sony.
You may have tirelessly debated over a shade of paint and were willing to spend more because that premium off-white really looks better than the cheaper off-white.
Many people, however, do not think they are easily manipulated by all that. They love the idea that they are sensible and rational and can, therefore, find a bargain and spend their dollars where it counts.
For example, they believe they are not influenced by advertising, branding and other messages designed to persuade. It’s referred to as the ‘third-person’ effect.
And it is true to a point.
In one study, when participants were exposed to the features of a very expensive product they were subsequently less likely to purchase that item than a more functional one. Presumably, the mere exposure to extravagance deterred individuals from making the superficial choice.
However, when the participants were distracted and not given enough time to think things through, they were more likely to purchase the expensive product.
The reason this happens is that when not given much time to think, we can base our decisions on emotion. The luxury products, for example, make us feel a bit more comfortable and we use this as a quick method to gauge their quality.
So, the third-person effect makes some sense when we have time to really think things through. Unfortunately, many of life’s decisions are made on the run and we are often distracted by choices as well as different views and opinions.
And advertising is relentless. It invades every aspect of our lives: on our pantry shelf, on television, radio, clothing, store windows, labels and billboards. Even written in the sky.
You may think you can logically ignore all this but eventually advertising, luxury brands and other superficialities will weed you out and make you invest in something you don’t really need. After all, you were suckered into reading this fairly superficial blog. And all the way to the end too. That’ll be ten dollars, thanks.