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  • Writer's pictureSamradni

Cashvertising Book Summary: 17 foundational principles of Consumer Psychology

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

“Knowing your customers is great, but knowing how they behave is even better”-

Jon Miller

The true essence of this quote is encapsulated in this lovely book Cashvertising by Drew Erick Whitman.

When I came across this book as one of the must-reads, for Marketing professionals I thought the ‘Cashvertising’ bit, might talk more about finance.

And honestly, I wasn’t as keen, but when I read the index itself I knew I was off to a great ride!

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There are SOOO many things included in this book that if I were to recommend it to anyone, I’d do it in a second!

Of course, I couldn’t include each and everything about the book in this blog post, the post might already be too long.

But in this one, Iv included my favorite section from the book, principles of consumer psychology!

One of the key reasons that attracted me to the field of marketing was how influential marketers can be to understand the consumer psyche and work around it!

So without further ado, let’s dive right into these 17 principles, sit back and enjoy!

Yes, fear sells! It pushes your consumer to react, take notice, and then eventually take action.

Brands have for the longest time instilled this fear through advertising, one of my all-time favorite commercials, that managed to move me, is given below

I seriously love the way the entire communication is thought through and executed! It hits you hard and makes you want to action.

A lot of brands associate themselves with arrogance and it works very well for them. The book mentions the example of Marlboro, it’s not the cigarette that makes you buy, but rather the aspirational Marlboro man.

Even in the Indian scenario, we see a lot of luxury brands be it for watches, cars, or anything else, trying to push your ego for a purchase

Your ad is as good as the credibility it brings.

That’s where the whole concept of Brand endorsers come in.

The best example is that of Sachin Tendulkar endorsing boost, with the tagline ‘Boost is the secret of my energy’.

This works so well because with Sachin, comes in credibility, he is always kept in high regard and hence it attracts mothers who wish their kid to be like Sachin.

According to the book, there are three primary types of groups that people wish to associate themselves with, these are-

i) Aspirational- Groups to which you would like to belong

ii) Associative- Groups that share your ideals and values

iii) Dissociative- Groups which you do not want to belong

Your brand needs to communicate to either of these groups, for the communication to work

This principle relies on a statement- “Don’t buy my product for what it does for you today—buy it for what it will do for you tomorrow!”.

And this is also based on the fact that a lot of consumers may not buy things for immediate consumption.

Life Insurance policy brands focus on this and they do a brilliant job at it

According to the book, persuasion takes place according to the 6 stages given below

Stage 1: Pre-contemplation

People in this stage are either ignorant of your product’s existence or they’re unaware they need it.

Stage 2: Contemplation

Prospects in this stage are aware of your product and have thought about using it.

Stage 3: Preparation

Your prospect is thinking about buying from you but needs more information about your product’s benefits and advantages.

Stage 4: Action

Your prospect has arrived at the coveted action or purchase phase.

Stage 5: Maintenance

In this phase, your product has become part of their everyday lives.

The Inoculation Theory is used to reinforce your consumer’s belief in your brand, by presenting a ‘weak’ argument and providing a strong defense in the form of your product or brand.

The three steps include:

1. Warn of an impending attack (For example, germs might cause a lot of issues if you do not use a disinfectant spray)

2. Make a weak attack (Yes you are using a disinfectant spray but it is not giving you the desired results)

3. Encourage a strong defense (You will get your desired results when you start using the disinfectant spray from our brand)

Fortunately, there are ways to change consumer beliefs.

The most important belief that we need to focus on is ‘I don’t need your product’.

Before Ola was introduced, we all had the belief that we can survive on other public transport options.

But Ola ensured that this belief is altered, and now most of us cannot imagine a life without Ola!

The Elaboration Likelihood Model suggests that there are two routes to attitude change: the central route and the peripheral route.

i) The Central Route: Persuading using logic, reasoning, and deep thinking. This route should be used when you wish to encourage your audience to really think and consider your ad!

ii) The Peripheral Route: This one uses persuasion through the association of pleasant thoughts and positive images. This one makes your consumers focus on superficial images to influence attitudes.

Known by the mnemonic CLARCCS, six weapons of influence are the following:

1.Comparison: “Everybody else is doing it, why aren’t you?”

2.Liking: “Because you like me, you should do as I say… BUY!”

3.Authority: “The man in the white-coat says it, it has to be the truth!”

4.Reciprocation: “I gave you a freebie, now you are compelled to buy from me”

5.Commitment/consistency: “Ask questions, the answers to which will lead to your product”

6.Scarcity: “If you can’t have it, you suddenly want it!”

No matter how amazing your product is, if the message communicated around it is not clear, it can do you no good.

Ensure your message portrays utmost clarity because if they don’t understand you, they cannot be persuaded by you

The clear winner is Examples.

Think of it yourself, imagine a Colgate telling you ‘Dentist recommended No.1 brand’ as against them telling you “We researched with 100 people, this is how the parameters were measured, this is how the results came through”.

The former one works much better because you do not wish to know a lot of details in regards to the numbers.

This is because when it comes to Advertising, we are already not 100% attentive, so a simple message is more likely to make a point.

Competitive advertising is not new, a lot of brands still indulge in the same where they try to create a comparison with the competitor.

However, the way you do this is also judged by your consumers.

If the sole aim to bash your competitors, then your consumers are not going to like it.

Instead, if you make it more like, stating what your competitor has and what you offer as a better solution, then its more likely to work in your favor

They say an advertisement doesn’t affect a consumer in any way unless they have seen it at least 7 times.

And as a matter of fact, it can create a difference each time it is played, through repetition, these small differences can build into larger differences, and can often tip the balance in favor of the advertised brand.

Some research suggests that using rhetorical questions can sometimes change how people think, and modify their buying behavior.

The idea is, if consumers aren’t thinking carefully about an advertiser’s message, slipping in a rhetorical question grabs their attention and encourages them to fire up some brain cells and think about the message.

This principle tells us that all consumers think in the same way.

All that they are really interested in understanding, is the answer to one question ‘What’s in it for me?’

When your communication makes this clear, you are more likely to persuade consumers to buy!

This principle follows the theory that, if consumers are exposed to the right type of information, their “mental trains” will stay on their peripheral processing tracks and pull into the station fully prepared to make a decision in seconds or minutes instead of hours, days, or longer.

So your communication needs to be right on track to make that impact!

In this post I have only covered the 17 principles of consumer psychology, however, the book also includes 100 advertising secrets that work to persuade!

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