The Psychology of Marketing


by ANNIE FELDKAMP '16


With the SUA community’s recent examination of the “Where Am I Wearing” campaign, a movement promoting awareness of the origins of our products and clothes, questions have risen about what it takes to sell these products. There seems to be nothing to popping open a cold can of Coke, or putting on a Patagonia for a day at school. Items such as these seem to be everywhere in sight; whether it be in St. Ursula Academy’s vending machine or a student’s closet. However, what makes products such as these so popular to consumers such as SUA girls? The evidence is all in the marketing, a psychological process that gives a product its consumer identity.

Establish a connection. This is important when building trust between a company and a buyer because it gives a sort of credibility to the company, reassuring the buyer that they are making the right choice. “Marketers have to understand what motivates their clients to purchase their products,” states SUA psychology teacher Ms. Moullan. An increasing trend with growing media and technology is having social media pages that expand the amount of people reached. Patagonia owner sophomore Abby Moellering says “The company makes the sweatshirt seem ‘cooler’ in a way.” For example, Patagonia has a Facebook link and a count of followers on its homepage, social proof that people buy and like their products. Another way of social proof is by having celebrities wear or use products publicly whether in a television commercial or during a movie, such as Ellen Degenres serving as Proactiv acne solution’s spokesperson. One of Patagonia’s especially effective campaigns was “Worn Wear,” an environmentally-friendly movement promoting the reusing of old clothing beginning in 2011. Vice President of Patagonia Joy Howard says, “We have a mission to solve problems in the world,” reflected in their anti-Black Friday ads in The New York Times as well as Twitter hashtags such as “#WornWear”, “#BetterThanNew”, and “#AntiBlackFriday.” While this aim seems to promote a decrease in sales for the $650 million company, the campaign aroused support and good feeling towards Patagonia, increasing annual sales by 40% in the next two years.

Pleasing presentation. According to the study “Impact of Color in Marketing” by the Department of Administrative Studies at the University of Winnipeg, 90% of first impressions of products depend on color alone. Specifically, color plays a huge role when creating a popular brand seeking to generate revenue. Aside from stereotypical assumptions of how yellow may represent happiness and blue being the saddest color, there is a desired mood conveyed with the specific hue of a product or its packaging. While this is usually based on individual experience and interpretation of a color, it is vital when attracting customers. “The food that catches my eye is something with bright colors,” says freshman Claire Jossart in regards to the East-West Dining Room vending machines. Chief marketer and commercial officer for Coca-Cola Joe Tripoldi remarks, “We need to be bold and disruptive.” This is an example of “recency illusion,” the idea that once a product has been noticed, it will seem all the more prevalent and recurring. In actuality, it is only because the person has a developed awareness of the product, causing it to seem much more popular. Such examples are the shareable can of Coke in Singapore, or one completely made out of ice in Columbia, crafted to draw attention.

So next time you put $1.50 into the vending machine by the East-West Dining Room, notice the layout of the label and the way the red color sparks your interest. Or perhaps, you will be inspired by Patagonia’s concern for the environment and see the story behind your sweatshirt. Either way, it is a prime example of marketing at its best, and the way with which it utilizes the human mind.