Often, the entire point of a coordinated marketing campaign – also known as a marketing mix, in which multiple measures are taken to maximize the prospect of success – is to convince consumers to make purchases they otherwise might not be inclined to make. As an academic matter, this campaign or mix is usually discussed in terms of the “Ps” that form the basis of the marketing mix: product, price, promotion, and place, the latter referring to distribution patterns as well as placement of the product within a store to maximize its visibility. Marketing campaigns are routine elements of the process by which items are manufactured for sale, or by which services are marketed to prospective clients. Manufacturers typically spend a lot of money on the marketing of their products, to include customer surveys, monitoring of public purchasing patterns, use of graphic designers to enhance the attractiveness of the packaging being used, and advertising tactics designed to present the product in question in the most favorable light, and to provide the illusion that purchase and use of the product will enhance one’s appearance or otherwise improve the quality of one’s life.
One way to think about marketing and the influence it has on public behavior is to focus for a minute on the political arena, in which human beings, politicians, are seeking to sell themselves to the public as the best option for a high-level position in government. Most people acknowledge that political campaigns, especially the television and radio advertisements that are typically used to “sell” the candidate, are superficial and misleading. The public knows that the campaign ad it is viewing is designed to portray one candidate in positive light, while denigrating or marginalizing other candidates, and that the ad is almost certainly distorting facts. Yet, political campaigns continue to invest a great deal of money in such advertising campaigns because they know they work. Through repetition, vibrant images and catchy slogans, these ads slowly work their way into the public’s subconscious and create the image the people behind the ads desire. The exact same phenomenon occurs with the marketing of automobiles, salad dressing and canned peas. A successful marketing campaign is evident in an increase in sales, especially relevant to the competition, despite the fact that these campaigns are entirely superficial. Corporations will pay extra money – sometimes, quite a lot of extra money – for the privilege of having their products displayed in the most advantageous position on store shelves, for example, those shelves situated at the line of sight of the average adult female.
How well marketing works with each individual consumer is something for the individual student to determine based upon his or her own experiences. Anytime someone chooses one product over its competitors on the basis of a popular image associated with that item, he or she is succumbing to the manipulative effects of advertising. The same automobile touted by its manufacturer in advertisements as “the best in its class” will very often score very poorly in quantified analysis of the product’s reliability and in customer satisfaction, but effective advertisements do sell cars. Publications like Consumer Reports exist to present consumers with informed data regarding the positive and negative elements of each item relative to its competitors – in other words, they cut through the marketing B.S. to present fact useful in making informed decisions. If more consumers spent the time to research products – an admittedly difficult challenge for the average working couple with children – than the value of marketing campaigns would diminish, and the budgets manufacturers allocate for marketing could be better spent on product improvement or employee wages. This, however, is fanciful and far removed from reality.