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A Jungian Approach to Marketing

Americans see on average 4,000 advertisements every day. This means that companies are having to go to extra lengths with their marketing in order to get noticed. Understanding consumer psychology is the key to marketing, and looking to the teachings of Carl Jung can give us some real insights into how advertising can change the way we think. In particular, Jung had a unique perspective about how emotions and our unconscious can affect the decisions that we make. His philosophies can teach us about how and why we respond to the products and services that are marketed.

Drawing emotion into a marketing campaign

The most effective type of marketing calls to us on a personal level. Jung wrote that “Thinking tells us what this thing is; feeling tells us what this thing is to us.” It is this level of feeling that is so important with marketing. Strong emotions heavily influence consumer behavior. You may go to a store with the intention of buying a certain product. However despite all of the research you may have done, or listing the pros and cons, the actual decision to buy is linked to the primal part of the brain - the part that deals with feelings. MRI tests have shown that when we evaluate brands, the limbic system lights up - it controls memory and emotion. The parts of the brain that deal with analysis and research are not stimulated at all. This shows us that in order for marketers to have a successful advertising campaign, they need to appeal to us as human beings.

Considering childhood

In studies, brands that particularly appealed to us the most were remembered from childhood. They were also brands that had a message of family values. It shows that brand loyalty really does last a lifetime. In Carl Jung’s book The Undiscovered Self, he said “The carrier of this consciousness is the individual, who does not produce the psyche on his own volition but is, on the contrary, pre-formed by it and nourished by the gradual awakening of consciousness during childhood.” It is no wonder that these brands are imprinted into our lives, from early on. For marketers, this information can be invaluable - this is why they target children with messages of happiness and fun.

Unconscious decisions and marketing

In the world of subliminal marketing, it is important to understand how much the unconscious affect the decisions that we make. During the 1950s, people were concerned that words or images that flashed briefly on their television screen, or concealed in a pictorial advertisement had the power to make them buy a certain product, or even to make them vote for a particular political candidate. This subliminal stimulus is said to be an unconscious influence. The public developed a distaste for this sort of advertising when Frances Thayer and James Vicary published a study claiming that they put a subliminal message into an advert of “Eat Popcorn,” and then sales of popcorn went up by 58%. Carl Jung had strong theories on both the collective unconscious and our own personal unconscious, and perhaps there is something fundamentally troubling about marketing affecting either, and our own growth as human beings.

By understanding the philosophies of Carl Jung, marketers can help move their advertising campaigns forward. And we, as customers can help understand the decisions that we make when we buy certain products and services.

~Jane Sandwood
Freelance Writer

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