Free «Compare and ?ontrast the Dark Elements of Consumer Behavior» Essay Sample


The increasing onslaught of highly developed marketing environment requires companies, willing to gain a competitive advantage, to take into account the psychology of the consumer, and, in particular, to understand the reasons of the consumer decision. In a competitive economic system, in order to survive, the company requires an accurate description of consumer behavior: how he buys, why he buys, where he buys and, of course, what he buys. Therefore, modern managers need to know who their customers are, and why these people chose their product rather than competitors’ one. The task of marketing is not to convince the customer to buy all the products of the firm. Today, the successful management depends more on how each stage of the business - product, promotion, sales service, etc. - meets the needs of the buyer. The firms are orientated on the customers, and this became a common approach in business management (Aronson, Eliot, 1999).

Today more and more strategies are introduced in the marketing system. Some of them are called “aggressive advertisement” or the “dark elements” of consumer behavior. Mainly, there are the methods that have a significant influence on the human`s choice. That is why; one of the burning issues is to explore this area of advertisement system.



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Consumer behavior

Consumer behavior is the study that learns the circumstances, reasons and period of time of buying or not buying the product. There are two fundamental aspects of the consumer behavior: the satisfaction and fulfillment of desires. Consumer behavior, where the crucial role is played by the demand, hardly needs to be explained (Frankenberger, Ruiming, 1994). It will be sufficient to collect data about when, where and what the consumer bought. George Cato in his “Mighty consumer” (The powerful consumer) considers the interaction of material and psychological factors, that influence the consumer behavior. Recession, inflation and wealth can both be a consequence and a cause of behavior. Understanding the reasons, preferences and desires of expression, requires a combination of economics, anthropology and psychology (Frankenberger, Ruiming 1994).

In order to understand the roots fully, the following factors can be described:

- The principle of gestalt. Acquisition of a type of product should be considered in the broader cultural context. If we want to understand why people buy this brand of soap, the most effective way can be evaluating the general gestalt of behavior associated with washing and bathing.

- The principle of “iceberg”. The principle of “iceberg” implies that not all necessary details lie “on the surface”. Taking this principle into account, it appears that the majority of buyers` behavior is the result of deep underlying causes. Recognizing the principle, investigators avoid direct questions such as “why” in the study of consumer behavior.

- The dynamic principle. Human motivation is not static. Economic and psychological trends affect all forms of behavior. Questionnaire techniques, which focus on obtaining data of the behavior, often disregard all the relevant detail. Asking people how much they earn, we do not receive information about stably of their financial situation, rather important to know the income at the time of the survey.

- Image and symbolism. Each product has the idea. Advertisement companies, in order to attract the customer`s behavior, use the image of the goods: melody, rhythm, overall configuration, background, or a candidate country. This is more than a vague phenomenon. Scientific researches have shown that we tend to change our opinion instantly and interpret the neutral statements when knowing about the people associated with them, whom we like or not. We respond faster to the signature (identifying characteristics) of the message than on its content.

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Applying these four principles (borrowed from anthropology, depth psychology, futurology and symbolism) introduce the innovations in the advertisements system. They form the framework for a more complete understanding of the motivations of consumer behavior.

Dark elements

In order to remain competitive in the market, the simple advertisement methods are not enough. There are lots of products, which have the same cost and quality, that is why; the advertisement agencies found out new approaches, which help to sell the product. It is not always possible to recognize this feature among the other advertisement methods. The customer can buy the thing, and only after realize that it has been a simple influence of the advertisement. These methods are called the dark elements of consumer behavior.

Irrational behavior absolutely differs from rational. While rational behavior links the conscious, designing plan action bases on calculating the balance between what can be achieved and its costs, the other behavior is deprived. Irrational behavior consists of the psychological mechanisms and is related to clear calculation. After such action, a man could be cooled down and restored the ability of rational analysis. The dark elements of the consumer behavior base on the customer`s irrational behavior (Frankenberger, Ruiming, 1994).

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There are three main mechanisms that have the irrational behavior as their basis: imitation, inflection and influencing.


Lots of forms of behavior, including consumer, performed by people without the suspicion thought. The background of it is the imitating mechanism. The main scheme of this method is: in common situations individual will behave the same way as people around. Imitation absorbs people, because it is much easier to follow somebody`s else choice, than to find solutions by their own. Therefore, due to the laziness, people try not to waste their intellectual power, follow the way of imitation: when a person tried the muffin and liked it, then the other person can try it after him; if your parents bought a mixer and it lasted for a long time, you can buy the same (Scriven, Barnard. 1997).


A crucial role in extending the forms of behavior plays the method of infection. Likely to how people get cold, they may, catch other people's mood and borrow the right behavior. French psychologist, Gustave Le Bon, mentioned: “Social infection is characterized by people with the suppressed will, and lead to consolidation of traditions by bringing these people in a certain state of mind through emotional empathy. Mass affective stress leads to narrowing the consciousness and perception of preferential those images, that are painted with the most emotional colors” (Clee, Wickland, 1980). Often, the variety of groups reveals a method of mutual inflection. In this situation, all members of the group infect each other. T. Shibutani, well-known American psychologist, has its own opinion about this: “Everyone contributes to the general atmosphere, and each can be infected with the mood of the other one, that depends on the meets of the state” (Aaker, Durairaj, 1997).

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Influence is a method based on the acceptance of the information that came from the external sources without any critics. The ability to inspire and influence has those has gained the respect or is well known (Scriven, Barnard. 1997).

All these elements are part of the aggressive advertisement that is considered to be the dark element of the customer behavior. It is believed that such advertising manipulates consumers and forces them to waste product. However, even the most honest advertising that is too intrusive is considered to be the aggressor. The main problem of the aggressive advertising is that people do not know how to react on it. Everyone unconsciously is set out to avoid the trouble. People are willing to pay to be sure, that everything is good. In this case, advertising uses the human mind, constantly reminding people about the possible troubles. The essence of this advertising is that a person is deprived of the psychological equilibrium.

Analysis of Dark Elements

So called “discounts with the higher prices” are the most common dark elements of the advertisement system. For example, the sale price of the product is doubled, then it is announced 50% discount. Finally, the price is the same, and the product is sold. The buyer does not know that today the average profitability of the industry is not more than 20%; thus, it is so easy to fall for fantastic advertising figures (Aaker, Durairaj, 1997).

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As a result, the buyer feels happy because he bought an expensive thing twice cheaper. The advertisement made its main purpose. However, in this case, the customer is forced to buy the thing he does not need, because of the cheap price.

The other method is so called “gift for you”. Bright slogan never recovers the essence of the gift, which often turns out to be cheap, but for the customer, it is a pleasant trifle. In most cases, this is the wall or desk calendar, a hundred-ruble care set windows, plastic thermometer with a company logo or any other detail. However, the slogan: “Buy the thing and get the gift” will always attract customer`s attention.

As a result, the customer is happy till the moment of reveling what is inside the box with the gift, the product is sold, the customer could buy unnecessary thing.

The third slogan that attracts person`s attention is “buy one thing, and you will receive the 50% discount for the other”. The main trick here, that the other 50% is already included to the cost of the first thing (Clee, Wickland,1980).

As a result, customer can even fail to notice that he was fooled and buy unnecessary thing.

The slogan “just today” can be heard very often. A trick is that the imaginary short-acting gifts and discounts, force the customer to buy the item straightaway. Just before the end of the month! Just before the end of the year! Only the first ten buyers! As a rule, the new month comes, and the customer can buy the same product for the same price.

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As a result, the customer feels frustrated to see the same product next month on the shells. The thing is that the purchase in the rush will be always unnecessary. One can buy it, just because it is cheap, however, in reality, it is not.

My experience

I can be hardly influenced by the advertisements. Of course, if I want to eat, and in front of me on TV appetizing (in the picture but not in life) advertisement of hamburger, I want to be at this time in MakDake. What is more, sometimes advertisements can be highly annoying. Especially, they are annoying in the middle of some interesting show or movie. However, after analyzing the part about the dark elements of advertisements I came to the conclusion, that I am constantly influenced by them and even do not notice it.

First of all, I like to be a participant of the actions carried by the advertisements. I can recollect the time when I was constantly buying the bottles of the soft drink in order to receive the price. However, I never got it. The thing was, when I actually collected all the necessary pictures in the bottles, the action was stopped.

Secondly, once I became the victim of the door-to-door sails. I was offered to buy the branch of CD disks of the good quality, for, as it was mentioned by the seller, twice less price. The only thing was that I had to buy not less than twenty disks. I was happy with my purchase for the first one hour, till my friend came and revealed the trick. The thing was that these disks were sold cheaper even in the nearest shop.

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From the situations, I have made the decision that the advertisement system is very tricky, and this should be taken to consideration while making the purchase.


1. Go shopping only with the list, or a full description of what you are going to buy.

This refers the realization of what you want to use in the future. If you know exactly what you need, your eyes will look at the features and price, not at the Star Offers, promotions, boxes and many other ways to get your attention.

2. Specify for yourself exactly what you need.

If it is possible, you can use some additional sources and find recommendations, better a good forum. We often pronounce or hear the phrase “could not resist and bought”. This is happening due to the not specifying the thing that is needed. As the rule, the disappointment of the rash act will surely come on your way home.

3. Respect yourself.

If you take care about yourself, you will not be the victim of advertisement. Always assess the situation; the thinking person will always be a leader in any circumstances. Try to find out the hidden theme in every advertisement. Evaluate the price and the quality. Find out the differences with the similar products.

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4. Go shopping with those who are not influenced by the advertisement.

The easiest way of the advertisement influence is when you have to make the instant decision by yourself. That is why is it reasonable to go shopping with someone else, especially when you are going to make a big purchase.

5. Do not believe in any actions that offer the twice less price.

It will not be profitable for the company to sell the product 50% less than its actual price. That is why, there will always be the trick. Try to evaluate the price with the quality and with the other firms that offer the same product.

6. Do not make fast decisions.

As a rule, the fast decision will bring you only disappointment. What is more, you need to be twice attentive if you are forced to make the decision straight away.


To conclude, today advertising has an exceptional impact on human consciousness. Through advertising, we choose what to buy, where to go and what to be. The secret of such strong influence is the variety of methods that are used by advertisement systems. Some of them are well known to the customer; another can be defined only after the purchase was done. Such methods are called aggressive or those, that are the dark elements of customer behavior. There are three main strategies that are used by the companies in order to sell more products: imitation, influence and inflection. With the help of these strategies, the customer can buy the product he does not need.

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That is why; in order not to be fooled by the advertisement industry, the customer should follow the main recommendation: to respect himself.


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