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Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy

By Martin Lindstrom
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom

Brandwashed explains the different psychological effects that influence our buying decisions and shows how marketers use them to sell their products. Brandwashed reveals the marketing tricks of the world’s largest companies, which play an increasingly important role in our everyday lives. Lindstrom’s exposé will help you to avoid manipulation the next time you go shopping.

Key idea 1 of 11

The products and brands children are exposed to determine their preferences as adults.

Why is it that many adults still purchase the same juice they drank as a child? And why can some adults easily recall the advertising jingle for the cornflakes brand their mother used to buy?

As children, we’re exposed to many products and brands, and these make a lasting impression on us well into adulthood.

In fact, we begin forming these preferences even before we’re born. While in the womb, a fetus is able to perceive sounds from the external world. So, if a mother likes a specific tune, she’ll share with her baby the positive emotions she has while listening to it. And because unborn children are able to recognize melodies – including the jingles of advertisements – hearing or recalling such melodies later in life will trigger the same positive feelings.

Then, once we’re born, the media bombards us with hundreds of brands every day, in web advertisements, in video games and on TV.

In fact, a Nickelodeon study found that children are exposed to so many ads that by the time they’re ten years old they will have memorized 300–400 brands. Of these hundreds of brands, children will form relationships with some that last well into the future.

Such relationships are often formed because children believe that brands help them to establish friendships with others. For example, one preschooler in a 2009 study demanded to have LEGO because he believed that otherwise none of the other children would want to play with him, or even like him.

The final reason for our preference for certain brands is that children believe everything in their family life is the norm. Therefore the products their parents buy become their favored products well into adulthood. For example, children who see that their parents purchase a particular brand of orange juice again and again will come to think of it as the “normal” orange juice.

Later in life, the adult will associate brands such as this with positive, nostalgic feelings. For instance, the brand will remind him or her of a comfortable childhood home, and the warm affection of a beloved family. This is precisely why we continue to purchase the same brands in adulthood.

In the following blinks, we'll learn about several other factors that influence our behavior as consumers.

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