Businesses have found many novel ways to market their products over the years, and some of these marketing strategies have aided in shaping the pop culture of many countries. For instance, we celebrate a plethora of non-religious holidays and traditions, like Mother’s Day– businesses make people indulge and spend money on things they do not need and convince them that this is the way to celebrate these holidays. These corporate-initiated traditions become acceptable social behaviour, and slowly creep into the culture of various societies; from Father’s Day to Black Friday, consumers are manipulated by wealthy corporations, and thus continue to be victims of the raging consumerism that has plagued the society since industrialisation.
Several examples come to mind when we think of successful marketing strategies that have boosted corporate profits. Perhaps the most successful of these is that introduced by the De Beers Group, an international corporation that specializes in diamond mining and diamond retail. Founded in 1888, they were the first to market the concept of using an engagement ring to propose. They associated diamonds with love and commitment, to which the price of the jewellery was supposed to be a testament. And as more and more men began to propose with diamond rings, it slowly became a tradition in the western culture. Although there is no ethical dilemma in using such marketing techniques, the company manipulated the consumers and created a artificial demand for their product. They also monopolised the diamond market for many years, and had absolute control over the prices of their now indispensable product. Only recently did the market open up to other companies like Forevermark. Despite new competition, De Beers is still reported to sell approximately 35% of the world’s diamond production through their auction sales businesses. Slogans like “Diamonds are forever” are set deeply in the minds of people and therefore it is a boundless market for them to exploit in the years to come.
Diamonds are still not the worst marketing gimmick for which consumers have fallen. Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving, is the busiest day of the year for most retail chains. It was started by retailers to sell more products one on single day, and today, people can be seen thronging towards city malls to avail the best deals. There are various stories as to how it could have originated. The most fitting one is that it got its name from the Philadelphia police who called it ‘Black’ Friday due to the traffic and congestion that it caused. Some very interesting statistics relating to this day is of the revenue it generates for the economy every year. In 2015, the revenue recorded was in the ballpark of $600 billion dollars– an average person spent about $800 dollars that day. In 2018, the revenue generated was nearing $700 to $800 billion dollars. These are not the only jaw dropping numbers you will hear from western nations– in recent times, Cyber Mondays are becoming popular due to presence of online retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. This year’s Cyber Monday sales earned a record revenue of $7.9 billion through online shopping. These deals last for a week, luring every last customer to the sale like a moth to a flame.
Every rational consumer always wants the best deal; even if it means that a good deal is the only reason to make the purchase. Over the years, consumers have fallen for various other tactics used by companies. For instance, even though Valentine’s Day has existed for centuries without causing much hue and cry, Hallmark uses it to sell cards and gifts; birthday cards didn’t exist before Hallmark either. Similarly, wedding registries were the brain child of Marshall Field’s, a department store in Chicago that recognised a need for married couples to register for gifts that they would need to set up their new home.
It is the innovation in the idea that makes it successful. The fact that nobody else has done that before helps these companies rein the market before competitors appear. But most importantly, these companies manufacture a reason to celebrate; a random act becomes socially acceptable through repetition and finally becomes a mandate to be socially accepted. Left unchecked and unquestioned, corporations swindle the freedom of choice from people, without ever being accused for it.
Picture Credits : express.co.uk