As an educated consumer, I like to think I’m able to ignore most advertising. In this media-laden world, I’ve become sensitive toward commercials that attempt to leverage sex, emotion, or patriotic imagery (whether for coffee, clothes, gasoline, or something else) to entice me to buy. In other words, I like to feel I’m smarter than the advertisers – I’ve figured out their tactics – and therefore I’m immune.
Well, I was wrong.
A week ago, I endured a long commute between London and Toronto. Meantime, I was subjected to radio commercials advertising an exciting new beer. The description sounded interesting and I made a mental note that I should ‘check it out’ the next time I was at the LCBO. Later, I saw posters for this new brew in the subway station, and heard further radio ads reinforcing its sale. I didn’t realize it then, but the marketing team for the brewery had already convinced me to purchase their beer. Through their clean-cut approach and subtle connection to Canadian factoids (the name of the beer will be familiar to fans of The Tragically Hip), they cleverly fostered a future consumer — me. Of course, I did attempt to locate this new beverage, which was – at least in the first store I checked – sold out! Evidently, I was not the only one.
Upon reflection: we’re all susceptible to different elements of marketing. This situation made me acutely aware that I had sought out an alcoholic product entirely based on the messaging of a well-constructed marketing campaign. Really, I didn’t need any beer for an upcoming social event – instead I actively sought out this beer because it sounded interesting and I felt the resonance of its advertising.
Consumers (including me) need to be aware of the motivations leading to acquiring alcohol – and all products, really. Perhaps we’d like to think that our purchases are based on a rational process, without influence from marketing tactics. Obviously, this is not the case. Truthfully, I will probably head over to an LCBO in the future and try again to pick up this beer. When I do, I won’t forget that its marketing was a significant factor in my decision.
Beer marketing team – you win…this time.
Richard Booth is a registered nurse and academic, based in London Ontario.