Friday, January 6, 2012

Buying shoes: They made me do it

And you just thought going into a shop and buying your favourite pair of shoes was something you did because you wanted to, and that decision, was totally under your conscious control. Well you could be right if you are very strong willed and live devoid of the media, but for most of us we are being manipulated on a grand scale and it starts off with advertising. The primary function of marketing is to move stock and whilst there a standards of advertising behaviour, these marshal gross and obvious misrepresentation, they do little to curb the subtle, subliminal messages hidden within adverts. Our brains subconsciously recognise primal images, things we might call symbols, the most obvious have to do with fertility and appropriation. These according, to Feud affect our attitudes and behaviours and designers of adverts have used these secret messages to sell their products from the beginning. This of course does not mean to say it is bad, nor are the commodities being advertised inferior or detrimental in any way. What it does represent is the science of marketing is extremely well developed and will deliberately target our human senses to achieve their objectives. Recently we conducted and experiment at the Department of Podiatry where a selection of shoe adverts from popular magazines aimed at the young and fashionable adult were analysed for symbolism. These were then divided into two types: those with subtle sexual symbolism and those without. Two groups of subjects were randomly selected and the first were shown adverts deemed to contain no symbolism; the other was allowed to examine the dirty pictures. Both groups were then asked to describe an innocent but ambiguous picture of a young couple. The first group gave a plausible explanation with no smuttiness; whereas the second group had more saucy reasons for the coupling. It would appear then images can radically affect our attitudes and the hope from a marketing perspective is this makes us want to buy more. Even supposing we do avoid the adverts getting to the shop can present other challenges. Most shoe shops display those products they are heavily promoting at the front of their premises. This instantly appeals to the spontaneous buyer with no real idea what they want other than an appeal to the eye. Buyers also beware if you detect a mild fragrance on the premises that is another ploy to get you to part with your money. Researchers at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago conducted experiments to discover the effects of fragrance on buyer’s habits. In a shop, which sold Nike–brand athletic shoes they divided potential shoppers into two rooms: one contained only filtered air and the other was scented with a fragrance. People in the scented room expressed more interest in the footgear and were eager to buy them at inflated prices. Shoppers in the unscented room were generally less interested and fewer purchases were made. Similar experiments have been reported in other retail outlets, casinos and museums. Results show people will stay on the premise longer, examine goods/exhibits more carefully and in the case of the casino, play more money. Fruity-floral scents appeal to both men and women whereas spicy scents were less likely to appeal to female shoppers. Now you know.

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