Module 5 Module 5 Module 5 Module 5
Module 5 Presentation Readings Assignments

Go on to Part 2 - The Development of a Consumer Culture
Go on to Part 3 - How Consumers Make Choices

Why Consumers Consume

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1) People consume because they "want" something

2) People consume to establish relationships

3) People consume to help define their place and role in society - Defining Boundaries

4) People consume to help define who they are as individuals - Social Membership

Cathy's Grill
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© Cathy Guisewite

1) People consume because they "want" something

However, there are many different kinds of "wants", not all of them powerful motivators. For example, I want a super powerful computer but not badly enough to actually buy one.

"Needing" something is a much more powerful motivation. And the distance between a "want" and a "need" is very short. Part of an advertiser's job is to convince you that you need something, not just want it.

Once a need has been established, advertising nirvana is to make consumption a "habit" rather than a conscious choice.

"She knew that over the past decade, many companies had perfected the art of creating automatic behaviors - habits - among consumers. These habits have helped companies earn billions of dollars when customers eat snacks, apply lotions and wipe counters almost without thinking, often in response to a carefully designed set of daily cues."

Click here to read The New York Times - "Warning: Habits May Be Good For You"

This ad for MTV boasts "MTV has affected the way an entire generation thinks, talks, and buys."

Advertisers are now trying to create that "need" by appealing to potential consumers as young as one year old.

"Is it right to advertise to children?" said Dave Siegel, president of WonderGroup, a Cincinnati-based youth marketing agency. "The parents we talk to feel it's very appropriate."

As Generation Xers became parents, attitudes towards advertising changed, Siegel said. Parents these days ask their kids what they want, rather than the other way around. Sixty-nine percent of mothers said it makes their shopping easier when their child knows what brand he or she likes, according to the 2003 Yankelovich Youth Monitor, a survey consisting of in-person interviews with 1,080 mothers.

"Mom's not lazy. Mom's smart. She doesn't want to waste time and money," Siegel said. "Mom will take the child to the store and the child will point. Given that's how parents are, I think it's appropriate for advertisers to market to children at a younger age."

Click here to read CBS Market Watch - "Aiming at the youngest consumers"

2) Establishing Relationships

People consume to establish social and professional relationships.

As we'll see in Module 6, the basic formula for many advertisements is "purchase product - get mate".

Not all ads are as obvious in their sexual message as this one from England:

Not all relationship ads are about sex. As the ad to the right shows, relationships come in many forms.

Jovan Musk Oil
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©1981, Jovan Musk Oil

Jovan Musk Oil
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©1967, John H. Breck, Inc.

Why Consumers Consume

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©2011, Terry Dugas

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