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Intern - Marketing/Sales, trnd Benelux

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Is sensory marketing considered manipulative by appealing to subconscious senses?

As part of my thesis, I am looking to find out to what extent persuading and influencing consumers in their consumption by appealing to (subconscious) senses is considered manipulative.

It is well known that people use, and are influenced by their senses all of the time, whether conscious or subconscious. In order to influence consumers in their decision making process marketers are using this knowledge to persuade or elicit certain emotions in consumers.

To exemplify, think of your supermarket. Sensory marketing efforts are thrown your way as soon as you step in to the supermarket. The smell of fresh homemade bread, use of color throughout the store, and not to forget the effect that food samples and background music has on shopping behavior?
Then, can you still say that the purchase decision ultimately lies with the consumer, or are consumers more (subconsciously) led by marketing and advertising efforts than they realize?

Do you think marketers are manipulating consumers? Or is all fair in love and war (on consumerism)?

As part of my research, I would love to get your thoughts and ideas on the topic. Your feedback is much appreciated.


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    Feb 27 2013: G'day Steffie

    Yes of course it's manipulative & has always been that way since someone had something to sell to others for a profit. Is it wrong to manipulate the populous to buy goods & services? I think that depends on how people are being psychologically manipulated.

    If we are being psychologically coaxed in paying for something we really don’t need &/or want & then yes it’s wrong but if it’s on goods & services we depend on then no.

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    • Feb 28 2013: If you look at the trend of companies being transparent and honest in their communications, and consumers expecting this from companies, leading consumers by sensory stimulation to appeal to their subconscious contradicts the transparency doesn't it? How can consumers then 'protect' themselves from these methods of persuasion?
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        Feb 28 2013: G’day Steffie

        Well you can’t unless one is aware of the marketing ploys being used at any given time or we start thinking for ourselves again which can block out a lot of these ploys subconsciously.

        The problem these days we don’t have to think for ourselves as it’s all laid on for us at a click of a button & the problem with that isn’t just because we don’t think for ourselves any more but what we are being programed to accept as a thought at a push of a button at times.

        For example take the news for instance, we click on a button to turn the TV on to watch the news, what’s usually on the news is sensationalism anything which is dramatic but so much more good is being done in the world that isn’t shown which makes us believe more bad is happening in the world. In other words by watching the news which is also marketed we are being basically brain washed that more bad is going on in the world than good. Believe it or not once we start thinking for ourselves again & become more aware the marketing ploys influence on us is drastically diminished.


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