Marketing, Money and Stereotypes
Hey...crystals aren't just for chandeliers.
By Sharon Chayra
Las Vegas Informer
One of the things I rely upon in my career is human nature; why people do the things they do. It’s like a chess game to figure out how to take advantage of their triggers to elicit certain behaviors like making them buy a Patek over a Rolex. As offensive as this type of manipulation sounds, it’s neither uncommon nor particularly offensive when couched as advertising. You can’t deny millions are spent daily for things like cars to potato chips. These items really aren’t a necessary when public transport, taxis and bicycles abound. And how necessary or even healthy is it to put a compressed potato starch product loaded with Disodium Inosinate into your mouth? No matter how nicely they stack into the can there are alternatives to these salty snacks including, get this, a real russet. Unfortunately farmers rarely have budgets like P&G.
There may be variables at-play but marketing depends on these behaviors and quantifies them. I can statistically substantiate why a client should invest $40,000 in an advertising campaign because my brethren and I are as creative as we are amateur psychologists and statisticians.
As a kid we frequently flew into Heathrow where tight airport security in smartly dressed uniforms patted down flyers and meticulously examined suitcases. I was always afraid the dour faced officer would touch me in the way she did some of the other women. My mum assured me that wouldn’t be the case because “the guards are looking for bad people.” As I got older I realized most often it was the men in long tunics and the women in dark abayas. Back then sensibilities allowed for such unapologetic profiling. Today tots in strollers are passed through explosives detectors. None have yet to be found with C4.
Magpul and their awesome mini gun VW
Like it or not stereotypes abound. Biologists, social psychologists, major industry, law enforcement, marketers may operate in different arenas but they’d be dishonest if they didn’t admit that birds of a feather flock together. It’s human nature to seek community with like-minded individuals. You will not find me in the company of a group of KKK women sewing glory suits and carefully applying MIOAK appliqués. One, because I’m not your average Anglo but two because there very premise is hate-filled and anathema to my standards of decency.
Biology and statistics demonstrate that we seek community with people in whom we share more in common and personality, social class, marital status contribute to our decisions. This is why the Caucasian man who lives in a 4-bedroom ranch on the cul-de-sac is married with two kids who participate in sports. He reluctantly watches Disney movies in the evening and drives a minivan that was rated in the top five for safety by Consumer Reports. He probably works a Monday to Friday job and in his infrequent free time he likes to read the likes of Clancy or Flynn and one the weekends he uses his electric mower and afterward drinks Heineken by a three to one ratio over Budweiser and not because I say so but because research folks like Gallup, Arbitron and Pew say so. They aren’t so concerned with much more than the mean even if you or I may fall into the lower ends of the Bell Curve.
When you break data down into impersonal and occasionally imprecise categories, you discount the actual person. I’d be disingenuous if I said I didn’t enjoy promoting IVF for infertile couples when I see happy families and my client enjoys healthy revenues. It validates my value to them.
Still, when I’m the subject of consumer behavior I can’t but feel a sting. When I was used to send my husband out for laundry soap he would always choose the bargain brand even as the shopping list had in red caps TIDE. Of course understanding the science behind choice I really can’t complain because he’s not concerned about that but you can bet he and his friends can discuss the merits of Michelin over Goodyear for hours.
So when I was privileged to go the recent Shot Show—an industry only trade show for outdoorsman to military—I was thrilled. I respectfully appreciate some people’s sentiments regarding guns but I was raised with them. There’s an old photo of me at about age four sitting on the hood of my dad’s turquoise Thunderbird in my ankle socks and black Mary Janes holding a Smith and Wesson .9mm handgun. My dad was helping me aim and you can see the pride on his face. He was raised in the Depression where food was scare and hunting was required, then served as sharpshooter in WWII and Korea and segued to becoming a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Officer. Guns weren’t just a necessity but a hobby and he always handled them and us with the utmost of care. He never discounted their potential for grave danger and we were trained to ensure both proficiency and safety.
Not all people expect this from me. One of my first dates with my husband-to-be was going to the desert to shoot empty bottles. He didn’t ask my experience and I didn’t offer it, and as he gingerly helping me aim, he was floored when I quickly and successively hit every bottle.
If I was retained to create an ad campaign for .223 ammo, I wouldn’t focus on chicks. That why as much as I wanted to grouse at the Shot Show folks, I really can’t. You see I was a minority with about 90 percent of the attendees being male and I’ve never hunted though I’ve been around a good amount of Tier One operators. I expected some resistance but nearly all of the booth staff only gave me a gratuitous head nod even as I rejoiced in Sig Sauer’s MPX. One group of guys asked me if I had ever held a gun. I asked if a water gun counted.
Clearly these men assumed a woman tottering around could hardly be more than a ditzy wife or girlfriend even as I was there as both a fan and a researcher. I was also there to once again hold my dream gun, the ACR. That’s why when I finally made my way to the Bushmaster booth, I and about six other guys stood in awe as the booth master asked who wanted to handle it. I’d had enough at that point of being pushed out of demos so I pushed my way Rose Parks’ style. The guys laughed. The Remington guy snickered as he handed me the rifle. I folded the non-reciprocating charging handle, demonstrated the quick change barrel system, and topped it off by explained how the full-length Picatinny rail on the monolithic upper receiver could allow for the mounting of a number of accessories. Maybe even a bouquet of flowers.
They were momentarily silent and I wasn’t thinking about me being a part of consumer segmentation, demographics and psychographics because I was too busy gloating. You see, whether these guys realized it or not, they employed a powerful marketing trigger that prompted my emotional response and thus behavior. So I did what the algorithm expects—I placed an order. And that, my friends, is how marketing works.
Sharon Chayra is an award-winning writer and president of a medical marketing firm based in Las Vegas. A traveler of life, Chayra integrates her science background with spirituality resulting in common sense observations to others on their life’s journey. Given her heritage of Apache and Scottish, she is a born storyteller and documents experiences about personal growth, culture, laughter and health into the written and visual word.