What we remember is affected by how we perceive things. We might think that what we perceive is 100% true, but this isn’t always the case. Companies and shops aim to exploit our senses the best they can, since our senses play a crucial role in what stays in our memory. Sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste are all ways to manipulate us to form a specific opinion or memory. Next I’m going to highlight some of the ways we are being guided into thinking something, sometimes without us even noticing it.
What You Touch and What You Hear
When you use a new product, how does it feel on your hand? How much does it weigh? Touch is a critical sense when forming a first impression on an object. Weight and surface textures can convey a sense of quality and price. But what does the product or place sound like? Did you hear annoying music that got you on the wrong mood or did you almost jam to it while shopping. You’ll start to notice that the music playing in shops is also a way to manipulate you to stay there longer, thus possibly spending more. Or perhaps the music is there to hide some other sounds?
Sound affects us in 4 ways that are physiological, psychological, cognitive and behavioral. Having the sound of birds singing playing in a toilet at the airport will probably calm you down before boarding the plane, so as you wouldn’t feel anxious about flying. Or for example in a local supermarket the music’s playing to hide the sound of coolers and other machines whirring in the shop, which would otherwise make you want to leave sooner.
Sense of Smell and Our Inner Schemas
You react to food with your sense of smell, as it is a huge part of your ability to taste. Does it smell good or bad? Without your nose your food wouldn’t taste as good as it does now. Smells can trigger reactions – for example you can start to feel unsafe by some smells. Has the food gone bad?
Tastes and smells make you remember things. A new car smells a certain way as do freshly baked buns and a hospital room. We all associate these smells with certain scenarios and form something that are called inner schemas out of these. We then can operate based on these schemas without having to analyze every sensory stimulus over and over again every time as if they are new. Some colors, sounds or smells are linked to schemas about danger, some about safety and comfort. These schemas of comfort and safeness are of great interest to companies because they are a powerful way to guide the mood and feelings of the consumer.
Subliminal messages, advertising to the subconsciousness
Herbert Krugman suggests that we can be affected by visual advertisement without us knowing. What happens is that we see a picture or an ad and then continue past it without even thinking about it. The right side of our brain has recognized and seen the image, but because we didn’t stop to think about it, there are no thoughts to recall the image with. Recalling and words are a left-brain function and without the trigger, we can’t access the image (Krugman, 2000). But the image is there nonetheless, affecting our subconciousness. Think about it, if we are repetitively shown the image in prints, streets and television it could probably start to affect us in some way or another. We could start to feel like we want to buy the product or that we like the brand the ad is promoting, without really knowing why!
What Can You See?
Remember, some things are there planned just for you, the consumer so that you would feel safe, feel the need to buy something or that you would stay longer. You are being manipulated throughout your daily activities and sometimes even without your knowledge. Don’t fret though, it’s just important that you acknowledge this as you go about your businesses.