Do people see your marketing as positive or negative?
A paper published by John Wiley & Sons in 2012 reports the results of their research into how consumers perceive marketing. Not good. According to the paper, consumers see marketing as manipulative.
Marketers can use that knowledge to position themselves against competitors. This requires that they understand how to: 1) use psychological language to show themselves as relevant to their target market, and 2) enthusiastic about a 2-way conversation with consumers, rather than focused solely on one-way transmissions.
Here is the abstract of the paper:
In this article, we explore consumers' perceptions of marketing and the extent to which they believe that marketing can play a positive transformative role in society. Findings from 36 semistructured interviews indicate that consumers typically perceive marketing as having a traditional short-term, transactional, and ‘company-focused’ orientation rather than a transformative one.
This was reflected in participants' views of marketing, as well as in their choices and comments when they were given two academic definitions of marketing and one description of unethical marketing and asked to choose the one they thought best described marketing. In addition, participants viewed marketing as manipulative, and most held one-sidedly negative opinions of its transformative potential.
The majority did not feel autonomous in their purchase decisions, calling into question marketers' usual defence that consumers are sovereign. In a similar vein, they expressed concerns about the effects of marketing's manipulative and deceptive techniques on vulnerable consumers.
These findings are rather worrying given that enhancing the transformative potential of marketing requires a more nuanced understanding of its role and function within society. Accordingly, we argue that successful transformative marketing interventions need to take into account and address consumers' disbelief as to the capacity of marketing to improve social welfare. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.