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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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  • Mar 4 2013: Manipulation makes the world go round kid. Without it we would still be living in mud huts, disorganized, unproductive anarchy would be the law of the land. We seek now to become more independent as societies but is this really a wholly achievable goal or should we simply be satisfied with the extremely high degree of awareness of these manipulations which we now possess? I tend to lean towards the latter. Society cannot function without some degree of manipulation. Currency itself serves a manipulative purpose in that we desire it because it can be converted into the goods and services which we need and desire. If you are indeed in marketing, I suggest you switch fields to philosophy since you seem to have a far greater interest in it.
    • Mar 4 2013: I agree with you, there will always be some sort of manipulation and that's fine. But it's worth trying to view the issue from other angles, i.e. philosophical. Marketing and philosophy are not mutually exclusive ;)

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