You’ve just picked up the kids from daycare after a stressful day at work and want nothing more than to go home and crawl under the bed. Hiding sounds nice but reality reminds you that the little ones must be fed. You don’t want them showing up at school tomorrow complaining of hunger pains and telling their teacher that you “disappeared”.
So you stop by the grocery store to grab something that’s easy to fix but will also appease your toughest critic. A quick turn down the processed food aisle and your bombarded with packaging promises of “fast”, “ready in minutes”, “heat and serve!” Ah, so many choices yet so very little energy and patience to be a smart shopper. Sometimes quick and easy trumps nutritious.
Marketers understand what it’s like to be a busy mom. In fact, they take classes on it. Yep, there’s a science behind the choices you make and it’s referred to as marketing psychology. While the study of human behavior is nothing new, the study of mom behavior has helped marketing companies find new and improved ways to influence your choices.
Why are moms singled out from the consumer crowd you ask? Well for starters, moms tend to be the primary caretakers and cooks who are also responsible for managing the household. That means moms are the ones buying groceries, household goods, toys, clothes, school supplies, personal care products—that’s a lot of buying power. The theory of marketing psychology is that if they can get in your head, then it’s way easier to get in your purse.
Have you seen the Got Milk commercial with the cute little black girl sitting in a grocery store shopping cart who meets her future self? Her future self is homely, worn out and clearly depressed but musters the strength to encourage the little girl to drink some milk.
The little girl takes several big gulps of liquid magic, and POOF!, her future self instantly becomes an attractive, muscular, gold medal-winning Olympian. Next we see the little girl’s mom sweeping cartons of milk into the basket.
I’ll give it to them…it’s a funny commercial. But the funniest part is the fact that sixty-five percent of Americans can’t digest the lactose in milk after infancy. According to the National Institute of Health, lactose intolerance is most common in people of African descent. Hopefully that little girl’s mom is up for all the late night tummy aches. Then again, maybe all that Olympic training will help to ease her gas and bloating.
So what’s an overworked, on-the-go mom supposed to do? The best way to avoid advertisement tricks is to be informed. When commercials play on your emotions or packaging makes promises that seem to-good-to-be-true, then just avoid the product all together.
Good products and healthy foods don’t need to trick you into buying them. Know that anything fast and easy is most likely highly processed with very little nutrition. Hamburger helper may help you get dinner on the table fast but it comes at the price of consuming preservatives, hidden sugars, and too much salt.
Your best bet is to do your homework and be your own consumer advocate. The good news is that when you’re informed, you become a more confident consumer. You no longer have those feelings of uncertainty and powerlessness that typically cause you to make poor choices when your tired or in a rush.
You become an expert at spotting the clever marketing tricks and know how to use information to help you find brands and companies you can trust. Also, look for socially-conscious companies that are responding to the demands of consumers with quality products that are healthy and safe. We’ve got a great deal of buying power—now we just need to find the energy to use it.
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