I just read a really fascinating article a client forwarded to me from the NY Times today. The article makes the point that it isn't financial incentives or more information that drives consumers, but guilt. The article focuses on the secret to turning consumers green with some amazing examples on how and why a little bit of guilt works. [http://bit.ly/Green-Consumers]
I have always felt the goal of marketing and advertising should be to create an emotional connection with the viewers, and when done right it works. We love to share an experience that make us laugh, feel inspired and proud. But what about guilt, should that ever be part of the equation? I was raised in the middle, middle child, middle boomer, middle grades, sandwiched between the guilt my parents fostered in me and my kids knowing how to manipulate it. Think about how marketers have tuned in to this powerful “guilt” weapon. I read a study that when boxed cake mixes introduced the idea that customers had to add their own egg to the mix the sale of the product spiked. The study explains that people felt less guilty about not baking from scratch!
There are tons of consumer research papers on this subject. According to a 2009 paper, Measuring Existential Guilt Appeals on Donation Intention [http://bit.ly/awOsQ1] "When the audience feels existential guilt they will attempt to minimize the feeling by possibly donating to charity. But that highly intensive guilt appeals evoked anger, irritation and annoyance."
I’m happy to say that I am getting better in managing my own guilt. After all it's just a substitute emotion when you're unwilling to feel what you're really feeling and serves no useful purpose at all. Now please, tell my kids!
What are your thoughts on the subject, please share.
–Ann Byne, Principal, The Byne Group