In the past, products would have been sold on the basis of utility. You would need something, the advert would have made you aware that they have what you need, then you would of gone down the shops to purchase the product. This all changed around the 1950’s when the nephew of Sigmand Freud, Edward Bernays employed his uncles psychological principles in the field of sales and marketing. Prior to these psychological shenanigans, we would almost certainly have only ever purchased what we needed, what was required to live comfortably. Now, with the ever growing consumer culture, there are millions of pounds to be made, and so the psychological principles of the advertising experts have taken on a whole new form.
For example; before the 1950’s the sales pitch would of been something like; ‘Do you have feet? Then why not try shoes?’ What they evidently realised was that once the consumer had a pair of shoes they were no longer a viable target. That they had killed a customer. What Bernays injected into the mix was something along the lines of ‘By these shoes, they will make you feel sexy,’ then it doesn’t matter how many pairs of shoes you own, you can always purchase more. Who doesn’t want to be sexy after all? What Bernays established was the correlation between consuming a product, and getting a positive emotional response as an outcome.
This concept has become more than popular in today’s materialistic culture. You can’t go very far without hearing someone speak about ‘retail therapy’, or ‘I know what will make you feel better… Some new shoes!’ This has all resulted from Bernays input of psychological principles to make people more susceptible to advertising.
Now I am getting to the crux of this post. That of personification. The concepts employed in advertising in the 1950’s have already gotten old and outdated, so the companies need new ideas to lure consumers. The most popular of those, and one which comes to mind quickest is the meerkats from compare the market dot com. Fluffy, adorable, comedic meerkats. What do these have to do with insurance (car, home, travel)? Absolutely nothing. But the company has personified meerkats to gain customers. Or Brian of confused dot com. You get a free toy if you purchase insurance through this company. Surely the best and cheapest deal should be the goal of internet insurance comparison, and not the cuddliness of its personified characters.