Advertisement and our Consciousness

Advertisement and our Consciousness

Manufactures are in the business of selling their products. Competition is always stiff so they will do everything they can to attract the market. The most common way to do this is through advertisement. Consumers are bombarded with it even at an early age. If you observe children, you will notice that even those who cannot read yet can identify consumer products once they see the packaging or hear the commercial on TV. A child at play will even stop playing for a while once he hears and sees his favourite commercial on TV. How do this happen?

Brands are able to seduce their audiences because advertisements are effective in changing our behaviour. We don’t even have to sit down and process everything we see yet the advertisement stays with us and we get hooked without our knowing.

How Beliefs and Attitudes Influence Buying

Businesses spend for advertising because they want to change the market’s buying behaviour to make it favourable to their product. Through the advertisement, they want the market to know why their product is better over the competitors’. They have to change the belief of the market and convince them that their product is worth buying. Making them believe, however, is not enough because believing a product is good may not change a buyer’s behaviour.

To make the customer buy the product, you have to change his buying behaviour. To change the buying behaviour, you have to change the buyer’s attitude. To influence attitude, you have to know how a person pays attention.

Catching Buyers’ Attention

To convince a buyer to buy your product, you need to catch his attention first. Logically, he has to listen to what you’re saying and remember what you have said. This is not the case when it comes to advertising. There are a lot of products in the market that we cannot expect the buyers to process everything they learn about it. People filter the information overload through the level of attention they pay to it.

  • Active attention – This type of attention requires focus and active thinking. It is hard to be actively attentive over a long period of time.
  • Passive attention – This type of attention does not require absolute focus. The person may be distracted by things happening around him but will switch to active attention at the moment it’s needed.

Once the attention is grabbed, the audience will then learn the message.

  • Active learning – Active learning requires the use of cognitive resources. When a person learns of an idea, he has to relate that new idea with things he already knows. He has to make associations and classifications in order to fully grasp the new learning.
  • Passive learning – In passive learning, a person does not pay much attention so only a few cognitive resources are working. An example would be watching the news on TV without really paying attention to it. The person will pay attention and focus only if he hears something familiar and wants to know what it is.
  • Implicit learning – Implicit learning is when the mind process information without the person actively thinking about it. The person doesn’t need to pay attention yet he can later on attach meanings to the new ideas.

One might think that in order for buyers to learn of your product, the advertiser should tap their active learning. They need to pay attention to everything about the product. This is actually counter-productive if you’re trying to seduce the buyer. If they are paying active attention, they become critical of things presented to them. They will reason that some of your claims might be unreasonable and that other brands could in fact be better.

It may sound funny that advertisement is a lucrative endeavour yet the audience don’t really pay attention to it. Advertisers spend money to introduce their product yet the audience don’t sit down to learn about it.

How Learning Happens

We have to realise that just because people don’t pay attention to that you’re saying, it doesn’t mean they don’t absorb it. Memories influence beliefs and attitudes and will later on change behaviour.

  • Short term memory – Short term memory is extremely limited. It can only hold a limited amount of items. Short term memory is a temporary storage vessel. Information it processes can eventually be stored in the long term memory.
  • Long term memory – Long term memory stores information that can be retrieved when needed. Knowing how to perform physical tasks are stored in here. There are different types of long term memory.
    • Explicit memory – Explicit memory is where conscious recollection happens. It holds information about how tasks are performed. It also holds facts and information.
    • Implicit memory – Implicit memory is the unconscious system. It is where automatic learning is stored like how to breathe, walk, eat, etc. The implicit memory is more durable; a person is less likely to forget them.

Now we know that we pay passive attention to advertisements. One may wonder then how can advertisements enter our implicit memory?

Emotions Are In Play

Advertisements affect us by tapping into our emotions. Emotional responses cannot be controlled. We can control how we will handle it but emotion will always come first. Emotional responses are biological responses. When an emotional response occurs, it is brought into our consciousness then a feeling is created.

Advertisements tap into our emotions. Most of them use positive emotional content. They make use of happy occasions like birthdays, birth of a child, having a pet, victories and other similar happy moments. They make use of catchy jingles and tag lines that can evoke happy feelings. An advertisement may require low attention to be understood but once it catches your emotion, it will stay with you.

Emotions influence decision making. It creates bias for a particular product outside of reasoning. In fact, during grocery shopping, there is no weighing of pros and cons when choosing a product. If one does this on a regular basis, he would waste a lot of time doing the task. Generally, one picks a product guided by emotions and gut feel.

It may seem that advertisers are manipulating us but is it actually our brain that’s bending to the results of advertising. We don’t pay attention to brand messages because they are too many. We learn of them implicitly and they get stored in our implicit memory.

Basically, we change our buying behaviour to favour a certain brand by letting our emotions influence our beliefs that in turn influence our attitudes.



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