Let Me Make You Feel Bad so I Can Make You Feel Better

Beauty and the Beast Hollywood StillOr “Why Neuromarketing isn’t Evil”.

There is a lot of concern that Neuromarketing will manipulate the minds of consumers and turn them into consumerist slaves. This is the dark future critics of Neuromarketing foresee.

The reality is that all Neuromarketing can do is to tell advertisers what is working and what isn’t, and how to do more of what’s working. Neuromarketing, if it lives up to its claims, will help companies spend their marketing dollars more effectively. EVIL doesn’t enter the picture until the product enters the picture. And let me let you in on a little secret. Consumers have long been being emotionally manipulated by products.

Take this recent study about how beauty products in ads make you feel. They make you feel bad about yourself. The “you need this” message is built right into the product itself, and when couched in an ad the resulting effect was this message:

“This product exists because you could look sooooo much better. Clearly honey, you don’t look good enough!”

Or in other words, “let me make you feel bad so I can make you feel good”.

And it worked because test subjects internalized it.

The inherent nature of the existence of many products introduces depravation and simultaneously the solution to that feeling. Those products create a “need” where one hadn’t existed before. When marketed to us at even a basic level, the message is effective. It makes us “need” something we hadn’t even been considering.

Does this mean all products are bad? In the study, solution based products (such as acne treatments) did not cause subjects to internalize negative feelings.

So at the end of the day, all marketing has the potential to manipulate our needs, but it starts with the product.

What do you think?