Have you ever bought something and then wondered ‘why did I buy that?’ or worse still had purchases turn up at the door and not even remember buying it?
Studies show that we are exposed to up to 5000 marketing messages a day, messages that literally say ‘buy this’. This may seem like a crazy number but not all marketing messages are blatantly telling you about a product or are even from the company you end up buying from. It’s like some crazy, global conspiracy to encourage us to consume at an ever-growing pace.
I will give you an example:
Jane has just purchased a new handbag, in reality her old one was fine but somehow this seemed like a good idea. Maybe to Jane it seemed just a random purchase, she saw something in the shops and thought ‘hey, why not treat myself’. All of these marketing messages contributed:
- A week earlier Jane was on Facebook and her friend posted the cutest photo of herself at a wedding. Jane commented ‘Wow, you look amazing!’, her friend’s outfit included a gorgeous handbag that really brought the outfit together. Jane thought I wish I was that stylish.
- Later that same week Jane went to a business networking event, she watched the lady in front of her popped her phone into a convenient pocket in her bag. Jane later fumbled about in her own bag trying to find her phone, if only she has a convenient pocket in her own bag.
- At the doctors surgery on the weekend she read an article about the success of a new actress, featured in a photo with…..you guessed it….a stunning handbag. Oh to be that successful and famous.
- Going online to purchase some stationery for work there was a banner ad for handbags, Jane looked at the prices and decided they were way too expensive. If only she could get that bag at a better price.
This is just 4 examples of times that Jane had the marketing message ‘buy a handbag’, most of those she wouldn’t even register but each one increased her own desire to buy a handbag. Perhaps she patted herself on the back for not purchasing the expensive one online even.
It wasn’t a coincidence that the handbag in the store caught her eye and she decided it was too much of a bargain to turn down. After all she had already turned down the expensive one, maybe this was her reward? Her brain was already searching for it so when that big red sign with ‘sale’ on it flashed into view and the lovely display elicited so many happy feelings what else could she do but buy it?
Marketing is designed to make us want to purchase in the most subtle way, even your own purchase becomes marketing to someone else.
But is it really that damaging? After all, it’s just a new handbag, you will get lots of use from it!
Well the first problem is that Jane probably didn’t need a new handbag, her old one served her fine. The old handbag has now gone to landfill instead, Jane thinks it has gone to the op shop and she congratulated herself on the back for recycling but the fact is, the op shop received so many handbags that week that Jane’s just went into an already massive landfill pile.
Secondly from a financial perspective Jane is now $90 in debt, because he used Afterpay to make the purchase.
When we add up the number of things we purchase based on the messages we get every day to buy that $90 can turn into thousands very quickly. These messages come from our friends in real life, social media, digital ads, in print ads, strangers, televisions shows and movies, events we attend…pretty much everywhere we turn. Those messages feed on our insecurities and elevate them to a level where we are compelled to buy. They figure out our pain points and solve them, it’s simple you just need to turn over your cash and consume more and you will be happy and successful.
I would love for you to take a moment to think about your last purchase, why did you really buy it and what impact did it really have on you both financially and emotionally? When we start taking some time to think about the purchases we are making and really considering their value in our lives we find we can be better off financially and emotionally sometimes without buying something at all.