Just like clockwork, your inbox is flooded with doorbuster deals, you can’t tell the difference between holiday ads and actual posts on Instagram, and the holiday carol on the radio ends up morphing into a local car dealership slogan. This is what we’ve grown to expect every year now that digital media and holiday marketing have merged. Although it seems like a lot, this yearly influx of marketing mayhem is actually a good thing.
There are a few facts we have to come to grips with 1.) whether we like it or not, the holiday season, for at least the last few centuries, has been equated with gift-giving/receiving and 2.) all the advertising that goes along with it actually make our lives easier.
Now I know that might seem like a shock, and I know I’m definitely biased since I work in the marketing industry, that’s why I’m going to use some science to back me up.
Psychologists have spent loads of time studying human behavior and decision making which have enabled them to pinpoint clear principles that can predict behavior. All holiday marketing does is utilize a few psychological principles to make our gift-buying experience as effortless as possible.
Ho, Ho, Hold on a Second…
Ever get so overwhelmed with a variety of options, that you don’t know which to choose? If you’re like me, the answer is no and you just buy all of them, but if you’re a normal consumer, that expansive variety can lead to feeling unsatisfied with your purchase. That feeling is called the paradox of choice and this psychological principal is a major problem when trying to land on a gift to buy for a loved one or friend. Marketers keep that in mind, especially during the holidays. We want you to have a positive experience when purchasing our product, which is why many companies narrow down their offerings to a few seasonally highlighted items, to better help you make a satisfying decision. (Source: Piasecki)
On Dasher, On Dancer, On Prancer, On Tesla…
Ever learn about a product or brand and then it suddenly seems like everyone bought it overnight? If your answer is yes, then you’re probably like me and my dad who get giddy every time we see a Tesla or Canada Goose jacket. This sudden recognization that happens in your brain is called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Also known as the frequency illusion, this psychological principle occurs when you learn about something new and then soon after start to notice it almost everywhere. This happens because your brain gets excited about knowing a new tidbit of information and starts being selectively attentive for it subconsciously. When you learn about this holiday season’s greatest tech gift or the retail industry’s must-have sneaker, it’s not holiday marketing trying to lure you into a trap, it’s the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon at work. It’s your brain getting excited about recognizing a new brand or product. In many cases, this ends up helping consumers decide which gifts resonate best with them. (Source: Kershner)
Up on the Housetop, Seasonal Hauls…
My last bit of science actually relates to the psychology behind gift-giving itself. It’s not only the goodness in your heart that causes you to want to give gifts to others, it’s also the principle of reciprocity. This idea states that humans inherently want to pay back what they receive from others and it makes them feel good to do so. When it comes to the holiday season, companies who are giving away free items such as perfume samples or free snacks are doing it to play to your inherent want to reciprocate the act. They’re hoping this will make you want to do something nice for them by, perhaps, purchasing their product. But think about it, you get something for free, and if you like it, you buy it. That makes you feel good and the company feel good. Not only is it a win-win, it’s also reciprocity at work. (Source: Mineo)
These are just a few of the psychological principles that are at work on a daily basis in the marketing and advertising industries. Brands are using these tactics to help you make more efficient purchases and have more enjoyable consumer experiences. If you weren’t on board the holiday marketing sleigh already, hopefully, you are now!