Consumersim, How It Controls Our Society

With the rise of consumerism, our global society has become increasingly focused on consuming goods and services, as a means to feel good about ourselves and to drive the economies of the world. Without consumerism, our economy would collapse dramatically. Advertisers drive our society through manipulation and persuasion to drive their consumers to buy their products which are not relevant to their needs. Through exploration of the psychology of advertising the five stages of life, advertising theories and techniques and the work of composers like Bruce Dawe and Macklemore provide an understanding of advertising by writing about how consumerism is being influenced in our daily lives. Consumerism is a phenomenon that was always immanent in the relatively developed societies, where people purchased goods and consumed resources excessive to their needs. However, there was a major change after the Industrial Revolution. In the 1700’s, people were defined by the type of job they had for employment. The role of status in terms of class was formed together around in ways in which work was organised, and their fortune of wealth.

This changed because of the industrial revolution as it was a period of great change. New industries like factories were being developed rapidly as a result of a number of inventions such as; the steam engine and spinning jenny, this machinery brought the industrial revolution to become the juggernaut that it was. Focus turned to the newer inventions to make life easier for working individuals and families with children. Now men and women of this modern society are not confined by their choice of employment but their ownership of trendy brands. Advertisements influence our daily lives by introducing new and improved ad campaigns manipulating the consumer into purchasing their product. Advertisements persuade consumers largely by appealing to their emotions, often using sensory information to get consumers to feel as though there is a sense of urgency about the offer, such as saying buy now, or limited time offer. There are many strategies that advertisers use when creating their ads and almost all of these strategies use the consumer’s emotions to make the consumer, desire the product. One of the strategies is Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs which is a five level pyramid that people go through to have a fulfilling life. Advertisers use this strategy by appealing to the consumer of a specific level, if a consumer is on the Stage Three-Love and Belonging Needs, this level on the hierarchy is the acceptance and desire to fit in with other people, this can mean friends, family, significant others, or all of above.

The men and women in this category will usually purchase the following item for the following reasons; magazines and anything else that will keep them updated with the latest trends, name branded item, perfumes and colognes, make-up, and sexy clothes to attract people of the opposite sex and gain love, lastly self-improvement books to avoid criticism and to be accepted by society. An example of this strategy is celebrity endorsements; this strategy is used in beauty products such as the Katy Perry Proactive Skin Care advertisement. In this advertisement, Katy Perry is indicating when she used the proactive treatment; her acne automatically disappeared within a short amount of time. Due to this product she started to feel confident in herself with perfect, clear skin manipulating the consumers to feel the same way. These products are not needed for the people living the life in stage five because they are self-actualisation. In this stage, the person feels that they have become everything they possibly can as they have reached the level of extreme peace, knowledge and self-fulfilment they do not need anything else to make them happy. Advertisers tailor their advertisements towards target audiences by broadcasting their advertisements over the internet, television commercials and radio stations using basic methods of persuasion forcing their consumers to purchase their product. The advertisers achieve their goals by using the most common strategy for targeting their audiences which is AIDA. AIDA stands for (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action), this method is very helpful for the advertisers when designing powerful advertisements. An example of this is capturing the attention of the target audience. People see hundreds of advertisements daily, but they only read a small portion of the advertisement. Which is why capturing the consumer’s attention is the important part of designing the advertisement. The advertisers use large exciting headlines to make their advertisement interesting such as; Announcing, Breakthrough, Shocking, How to _, these words always breakthrough capturing the consumer’s attention. This kind of strategy works on consumers because the advertisers are making their advertisement seem exciting and new. Starting off with such powerful words make the
consumers want to stop, watch, and listen.

Another strategy is the Quadrant Theory. The Quadrant Theory relies on the natural path and western culture. In western cultures, people read from left to right and start from the top left corners, travelling right across the page and travelling down. Our eyes are trained to move this way so advertisers will put the most important info at the top of the page and lesser or secondary info at the bottom. The images are designed to attract attention at the top of the page where our eyes would naturally go anyway. An example of this strategy is the Whisker’s advertisement. In this advertisement our eyes automatically go straight towards the bulky grey elephant on the left side of the image, commencing right across the image to see a small kitten attacking the elephant with its claws, ending the advertisement with a message “Feeding your cat’s instincts”. This kind of strategy works on consumers because Whiskas is indicating to their target audience that the product is meeting their cats’ instinct of desires by capturing their prey, and their prey of desire is captured as the elephant in their food product for cats. Techniques of persuasion are used by advertisers to manipulate the consumer and persuade them that they require to have it, right then and there.

There are large numbers of techniques used in advertisements; most of the advertisers use the subtle use of humour and sex appeal. In the Aami Insurance advertisement, Rhonda is referring to her Bali trip as exotic and her interpretation of Ketut’s “You look so hot today, Rhonda” and ”Like a sunrise” lines as flirting, when he is obviously referring to her badly sunburnt skin, is quite humorous and real. As Rhonda is replying with “Kiss me Ketut”, this is an enormous move away from typical car insurance ads where people have been in a car accident. It is only in the latest instalment when Rhonda returns home from Bali and is relaying her interpretation of her meeting with Ketut to her friend, which a minor car accident occurs. Luckily enough Rhonda was insured with Aami, they were quick to assist her. These aspects of the Aami advertisement appeal to the target audiences because they are wanting the consumer’s to think of the advertisement when picking a choice of insurance, as Aami will always be there to assist you fast no matter where you are or how small the incident was.

Another example of an advertisement that uses persuasive techniques is the “Despicable Me 2, Happy Meal” McDonalds advertisement which has the characters from the Despicable Me 2 being the main focus. However this ad is most appealing to children as the presence of minions are making it humorous and exhilarating using a mix of illusion and reality together as one. These techniques are pressuring the children to want their product with limited time offers. Even though these techniques are manipulating we are not completely blind to the effects of consumerism because some advertisements end up failing to attract the consumer’s attention and interest which makes the advertisement fail. Some people dynamically point out the negative aspects of consumerism composing poems or soundtracks in the way of which consumerism has taken over and is operating our minds. People like Bruce Dawe who has in sighted us the negative effects of consumerism through his poems. Bruce Dawe’s poetry focuses on the concept of consumerism surrounding the modern era. Dawe’s poem “Televistas” follows a story-line of two characters watching television. He composes this romance converting it over to a parody (making fun of something by pretending it is serious and doing it in the same style) of two people meeting and falling-in-love. Dawe pinpoints this parody by saying that instead of the couple sharing a kiss, they “shared a samboy” (packet of chips), instead of gazing into another’s eyes, they were “Crunching in the afterglow” He is highlighting a serious message that perhaps like meeting a person, spending time with them, falling-in-love and sharing a first kiss are being replaced by consumer products such as watching television and eating brand named food. Bruce Dawe wants his reader to contemplate about our relationships and how they are being affected by the concept of consumerism. Dawe’s poem “Americanized” negotiates the negative effects of consumerism. This serves as an extended metaphor for how consumerism examines and dominates our society. His negative tone is made clear through lines such as (She loves him…but will not allow him outside.

“The streets are full of nasty cars and men”) she whispers , this quote demonstrates the mother’s fear of her child being exposed to consumerism and how it dominates our society, protecting the child from being manipulated into desiring products he does not need. Dawe also highlights how consumerism compels us to consider buying products excessively is healthy for us through the quote ‘she loves him’ ‘she’ is the mother for who consumerism is in this metaphor. This is meant to say how consumerism makes us consider it to be valuable to us. Dawe’s achievement is to have his audience realise that consumerism is suffocating by shoving new products into our faces, when in reality we do not need them at all. The song “WINGS” by Rap composer Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis is about the pursuit of identity through the means of consumerism. The attempt is to dissect our infatuation and attachment to logos, labels, brands and the fleeting happiness that is intrinsically linked to the almighty power of the purchase. Macklemore talks about how people do not question or even think about consumerist ways but just follow them. He quotes ‘Movement told me to be a consumer and I consumed it’ this is a good example of the trend ‘Nike’. ‘Nike’ is such a popular designer label for sports gear, the society do not care for what the product is or how much it costs, but the value it can have for them. Societies are able to keep up with these latest developments and movements without even blinking. Macklemore also talks about people judging others by the clothes they uniform in the quote’ More than just a pair a pair of shoes’ this is implying the shoes aren’t just ordinary shoes. These shoes are representing this person for who they are. Through ‘Wings’ Macklemore communicates that consumerism has manipulated the society to believe that they need to wear specific brands to fit in and be accepted.

Through the exploration of consumerism it has become clear we the societies are restricted by this way of life so much we don’t even realise it. The effect of living in this society is so great it has even been cultured from birth to adulthood contributing to buying popular brands, which the people do not necessarily need for survival and we are always exposed with advertisements everywhere we go. Having the true understanding of the Psychology of Advertising it becomes apparent we will realise how consumerism is dominating our world. This brings awareness of how consumerism and advertisement has taken domination of our lives and addresses out to the public. An analysis of the Psychology and techniques of advertisements has defined today’s society on how it has been dominated and manipulated with use of the poetry of Bruce Dawe’s ‘Americanized’ and ‘Televistas’, with also Macklemore soundtrack ‘WINGS’. With the rise of consumerism, our global society has become increasingly focused on consuming goods and services, as a means to feel good about ourselves and to increase the economies of the world. Without consumerism, our economy would collapse dramatically. The advertisers motivate society through manipulating and persuasion to force their consumers to purchase their products which are not relevant to their daily needs. However, to make consumers stay interested in the product of desire, the advertisers enhance the awareness of their product sub-consciously to make sure their advertisement stays in their minds for the consumer to buy. In today’s societies, consumerism is the tale of life, even though it has dominated and manipulated us into thinking we have to follow the procedures of buying products we do not need.