The shift in marketing from understanding consumers to manipulating them

The recent documentary released by Netflix, The social dilemma, beautifully presented a different picture of the world we live in. It talks about manipulation, vulnerability, and about us. As we switched to social media or to the internet from our usual DTH services, the new business model emerged. These business models revolve around catching our attention, manipulating us, advertising to us, and trying to even change our behavior. It is important to understand that it’s not difficult to change someone’s behavior, especially when they are exposed to such a massive amount of information which is actually, confusing. Today, any study conducted on understanding the aspect of marketing is incomplete without considering consumer behavior.

Marketing has been all about understanding consumer psychology, introduced by marketing concept, and then taking further actions that go in favor of the brand rather than serving what the consumer needs. What’s different today is the way it is being used. Earlier, it was all about the product and its attributes, then it shifted to branding which is about how it makes you feel, how others see you, or how you see yourself, but today, it is about knowing the consumer up to such an extent that you can predict their next move with certainty.

The way people behave today is more about acceptance. The self-image they strive for is either in terms of social self-image (how people feel society sees them) or ideal social self-image (how people want society to see them). This is exactly what fair and lovely did. Fair and lovely targeted that portion of society which struggled with their complexion and wanted society to accept them (social self-image). What’s shocking is that people sitting on the other side of the screen are aware of this; they know when and how to push you to buy something.

What’s more bugging here than advertisement is how the internet is being used as a medium to manipulate people. Today, all of us, while surfing the internet, are not just people; instead just a data point, generating huge amounts of unstructured information known as big data. This data is used to understand each one of us so that the way we get treated by the internet can be customized and make us happy.

Ask yourself a few questions the next time you visit an e-commerce site, why and how do you see the same products being advertised on unrelated websites, the ones you wish listed or dropped in your cart? Is it like they know what you were looking at or there is something more to it.