Q. The subtitle of your book is "Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy." We're intrigued.
A. Believe me, there are many. Too many to count.
Q. Any that specifically target moms?
A. Oh, sure. For one, marketers are capitalizing big-time on the fact that today's mothers are consumed with worry about germs and dirt. Any promise to "sanitize" or packaging that suggests sterile contents speaks directly to this.
Q. What else?
A. Ever notice the music being piped into the stores? Odds are it's a carefully orchestrated medley of songs that evoke instant nostalgia and take you back to a time when life was far simpler. You feel all warm and fuzzy, and then you're sort of magically willing to open up your wallet.
Q. Your book details a concept you refer to as a person's "future feared self." Explain.
A. We all have some version of a future self we would take great pains to avoid. As in, do most of us go to the gym to be healthy, or because we're afraid of getting flabby and not fitting into clothes? Do we bathe and brush our teeth out of reverence for the laws of hygiene, or because we're afraid of what we would look like otherwise? Those are examples of future feared selves that we're willing to spend money to avoid becoming.
Q. Let's switch gears. Talk a bit about fruit.
A. Ah, fruit. A universally revered symbol of freshness and health. Brands across all category lines—hair conditioners, lip balms, even furniture polish—have gone fruity on us. The scent evokes feel-good associations and we can't get enough.
Q. What about Facebook? Doesn't social media trump everything when it comes to marketing?
A. People assume that, but no. Facebook has a place, sure, but actual interaction among family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, that's the gold standard. Word of mouth, person to person, is much bigger. It always will be.
Q. Would Mark Zuckerberg beg to differ?
A. You'd have to ask him, I suppose.
Originally published in the October 17, 2011, issue of Family Circle magazine.