The Hidden Persuaders…

28 02 2005

I just finished reading a book called The Hidden Persuaders written by Vance Packard on American Advertising world. The book realistically depicts the motivational research activities in the Advertising world to understand the irrational side of the consumers and the hidden meanings in their actions. The book brings forth a few startling facts about the new kinds of research which are carried out to sell the products. Being a Marketing student I can understand that when people buy a Nike shoes or a Harley Davidson bike, they are not just doing it for the shoe sake or for the bike, but then when I ponder over the hidden meanings I wonder how much of that is what consumer has always wanted. These meanings are created and nurtured over years by some brilliant adman and we follow them like a culture. Aren’t we being puppets when we are dancing to the media influence? The book even questions the validity of these research and the morality of prying into the mind of the customer to sell things which he has never felt the need for. Yes the book answers the questions it rises by saying that the consumer develops a recognition reflex when he realizes the hidden needs the products want to target, but what about the less unfortunate consumers who fall prey to the fabulous media and buy products from which they find little use? Its a real good book which throws light on the depth of the studies conducted to understand the consumer behavior and how these studies are used to subconsciously influence the purchasing decisions of the consumers.

Here is an interesting passage about the emotional reasons for eating, excerpted from The Hidden persuaders by Vance Packard, reprinted in “Health Is Wealth” in an article called “Hidden Meanings in Food.” “A lot of infantile people never get any farther than having fun with their mouths and the oral gratification field is rich in merchandising possibilities. The deeply ingrained need for intake through the mouth remains as a primary impulse and need all through adult life. People suffering from oral deprivation, because of inadequate early opportunities to gratify oral cravings, find comfort in just being surrounded by the sight of plenty of food. The craving for milk can clearly be seen in many cases to be related to the meanings of milk rather than to nutritional value or use Milk in many ways expresses the comfort, security, and contentedness of life as it was at home. Drinking it brings back memories of life that are reassuring, and offers a kind of comfort that is totally unrelated to calcium content However, those of us who scorn security, and insist our own busy, independent lives tend to find milk not particularly appealing.



One response

6 11 2006

A very valid comment i must say. You very much so grasped the main point of this great novel in saying what you did!

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