Marketing has often been criticized for forcing people to buy things they don’t really want or need, or can’t afford. An evaluation of this criticism.
August 27, 2008
Forcing people to buy is a harsh term since no one has watched their family tremble at the end of a gun barrel while they were forced to make a purchase. Marketing, like everything else in this world, has changed as its aged. Many of the tactics used thirty years ago are not legal today because they misrepresented the product they pushed. Thus leading people to think they were buying something they were not.
The majority of marketing only exposes our desires to purchase; it does not create those desires. A greenhouse of discontent has been fertilized by hungry corporations and advertising agencies over several years causing our desires to shift and bend. But they are still our desires and acted upon by us.
We buy to identify ourselves with the identity of a brand. As Roy Williams points out in his Monday Morning Memo (Williams, 2006), “Our favorite brands are usually an extension of our values, a physical expression of our beliefs. This is why millions of us pay slightly higher prices for Fair Trade coffee. It tastes exactly like the coffee sold by heartless corporations, but Fair Trade coffee makes us feel differently.”
This could wander into the debate of whether marketing determines wants, or whether our wants determine marketing. However, staying on point that marketing forces us to buy unwanted or unneeded things is to say we are mindless and do not have free will. While I find myself saying, “Wow. That gadget would be great to have.” I also find myself too tight to buy it. Personality and buying habits learned as kids are probably a larger factor in people buying unwanted or unneeded items.
Marketing at its best simply causes us to either consciously realize a need or want and then provides us with the method of satisfaction. It helps one company’s product or service to be thought of above another’s. Marketing at its worst gives us a chuckle or makes us puzzle, but is gone with the next breath.
Williams, R. H. (2006, 12 04). Why We Buy. Retrieved 08 26, 2008, from The Monday Morning Memo: http://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/?ShowMe=ThisMemo&MemoID=1651