Who Controls What You Buy?

BUS_brandwashed“Who controls what you buy?” may seem like an easy question. But master marketer Martin Lindstrom provides an answer that spans over 200 pages in his second book, Brandwashed.

At first glance, of course I control what I buy. I see it in the store, put in my basket and pay for it with my own money.

Brandwashed says that’s garbage because marketers have thought long and hard about what makes us want to buy in the first place. He gives examples of how brands use our natural psychological wirings to manipulate us into thinking that we need to buy their products.

It’s all one big conspiracy to get you to buy. And just when you stop believing him, he pulls out the oodles and oodles of market research paid for by brands. Lindstrom knows this because he did the research. I was especially impressed by Axe’s efforts to find out who would be the target audience for their trademark douchebag spray. Of course, it wasn’t always known as a spray for 14-year-old boys but that’s part of the story.

BRAND_axI’d be interested in hear what he has to say about Abercrombie & Fitch’s strategy of revealing their strategy. As consumers, we’re comfortable buying into a lifestyle semi-consciously but does it work when it’s not so subtle? It’s as if Rolex were to put out an ad that read “Rich people wear our watches.” Every ad implies this but it’s never the tagline.

Brandwashed was a little hard to get into. I like my non-fiction to read like fiction where there’s a storyline that ties everything together. Brandwashed jumps around a lot and revisits previous concepts at unlikely times. However, the research tidbits are gold for anyone that buys or sells stuff. Because for those that have watched The Devil Wears Prada, it’s not just stuff.

See the following ads from a recent issue of Vogue. Do you think they manipulate us as consumers?





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2 thoughts on “Who Controls What You Buy?

  1. Well, I’m certainly a very bad marchant. Rarely buy anything, first for an ideological postion, and second, for the lack of money. I don`t conceive for my self to be persuaded in anyway to buy something like a deodorant or a cologne or wharever. I do want a modern plasma screen now, but just to watch movies at home. Can`t stand mexican tv casting… It’s said that Socrates used to say infront of a bunch of merchandise and stuff at the public plaza: “how many things that I don’t really know” -2000 years later it’s the same.

    • Thanks for commenting!

      My boyfriend recently told me the same thing — that he’s not influenced by marketing or advertisements. But it’s more subtle than you think. Maybe it’s that loyalty card that takes you back to the same gas station. Or that jingle that you don’t even think about when you go to buy that stick of gum… Or maybe it’s your kids begging you for a bigger TV. Whether you fall prey to it or not, everyone is targeted. Unless you never consume any meda or leave the house, we’re all influenced one way or another.

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