Saturday, March 17, 2012

Guilt Marketing- Why do we feel guilty?

Consumer behavior as a science describes elements of human psychology. Human psychology is a vital parameter in describing consumer behavior. Marketing is described as an art because it is deeply rooted into human psychology.

We, as a consumer usually feel bad when we don't buy our old products and brands. In other words, there is guilt attached to us on many occasions. For instance-  if we don't buy from our regular grocery, if we eat lot of chocolates, if we have lots of fun in the party and study nothing and the list is big.

There are many instances, where we develop guilt kind of uneasiness but why do we feel bad?. The accepted answer is-  Feelings of guilt occur because deep down in our subconscious we have become emotionally attached to an event that we feel in some way responsible for, either we feel that you did something wrong, feel that we didn’t do enough or feel that we should have done something – all these feelings stem from an apparent lack on your part

Marketers have exploited this guilt on a lot of occasions.In fact during 1970s- 1980s, when concept of Corporation was budding, many corporations were employing psychoanalysis techniques(Sigmund Freud)  such as Focus group discussions to understand consumer behavior, subconscious state in a greater deal. According to Sigmund Freud, subconscious state in consumer's mind should be nurture properly by ensuring security and love. All these brands that bond a chord in our minds work on the same principle- To understand subconscious needs of human mind(segments) and feed them accordingly.

Some of the examples of Guilt Marketing are:-

1. Selling diapers along with beer:- Using data analytic, we figured out that diapers and beers sell together very well. Why? Because of guilt.

2.  Treat your customers so well that you create a sense of obligation in the mind of consumers to buy  from you. This is what happened in Indian local grocery shops.These shops can deliver you paltry item even at mid night and you feel yourself connected to their business and even sometimes start promoting their business like a brand ambassador.

3. Advertising firms &Copywriters has used guilt as a concept to sell products. Latest examples are Bournville, Parachute etc

4. CSR activities, which are used to promote an image of brand or product is also a form of guilt.Companies are making huge profits using natural and human resources and CSR activity is a way to give back to society.

5.Low calorie sweets( Skinny Candy)  and Gyms( Virgin Active) are all using concepts of guilt to introduce their products and services

As a powerful human emotion, guilt will always has a place in marketing,  But  in current times when consumers have grown sophisticated, there cannot be a simple one-size-fits-all approach: Brands need to be careful what ‘bad’ tactics they pick or it could backfire on them.


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