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How Brands Manipulate Consumer Minds

Because you have an eye for good deals and quality items, you might like to think that you are 100% responsible for your choices. But we are sorry to burst your bubble; you’re not. Research has shown that several unconscious influences largely determine consumers’ choices. 

No matter how good and logical the deal was, chances are you made that purchase under the influence of one or more of the creative marketing gimmicks employed by marketers. These marketing gimmicks subtly play on the psychology of potential customers to compel them into buying the advertised product. And it works so well, e.g., the 10 euro bonus.

What is a Marketing Gimmick?

In retail marketing, a gimmick is described as a unique feature designed to make a product or service stand out from its competitors. A marketing gimmick is simply a marketing strategy (or strategies) designed to boost publicity and attract customers. It is typically a novel idea created either by newer brands to get into the market or by older brands to increase customer loyalty. It involves a combination of differentiation, positioning, and creative advertising. 

All the advertising we see on TV screens, billboards, social media, and pop-up ads on websites are saturated with advertising gimmicks to get and keep your attention until you make a purchase. The worst part is, you are not even aware you are being manipulated most of the time. And that is why it almost always works.

Our minds are wired to make more emotional decisions than logical ones, which is why we often do not recognize a gimmick even when it is very obvious. Let’s take a look at the five most popular marketing gimmick examples.

5 Most Popular Marketing Gimmicks 



We all love the holiday promotions. Everyone looks forward to getting a good deal on that long-desired home appliance or gadget, and that’s the reason for the shopping fever we experience during Black Friday. While some great deals are available during promotional sales, most of the sales offers are scams. This is because the prices are most times manipulated.

Vendors have been observed to significantly increase prices in the weeks leading up to the promotional sales and then offer a huge discount. For example, a pair of shoes normally priced at say $40 will suddenly cost $82 just before the promotion. During the promotion, the same pair of shoes are offered at a 50% discount, reducing the price to $42. You are buying the product at a higher cost, but you will go home smiling, happy with the deal you got, believing you just got the best deal and saved cost. And because these discount sales are available for a limited time, it induces the fear of missing out (FOMO), which further compels you to make that purchase.



This particular marketing gimmick is a favorite of large corporations and well-known brands. Companies want their brands to evoke positive feelings in the customer’s mind, thus creating a brand image. It is one of the major aims of advertising, and that’s why many ads are entertaining and do not make any direct sales offer. This is arguably one of the best advertising gimmicks because it does not just offer a product; it offers an experience.

One of the most successful uses of this marketing gimmick is the Coca-Cola “share a coke” campaign, where the company wrote 250 of a country’s most popular names on coke pet bottles. Customers were encouraged to find their personalized bottle and share it with loved ones using the #shareacoke hashtag. Millions of people around the globe purchased bottles of coke in a bid to find their names, and the company’s positive perception soared.


Social Proof

Thanks to the Internet, we do not have to trust manufacturers’ and salespersons’ words anymore blindly. Not when we can easily see the opinions of fellow customers in the review section. But even if you read a thousand reviews, your purchasing decision is often still influenced by marketers. They know you will be coming to read reviews, so they go there before you.

Although there are many genuine reviews on the Internet, many of them are fake. Companies and marketers now pay people to post positive reviews or get their employees to do so. Since there is no way to differentiate genuine from fake reviews, you might find yourself manipulated into buying a product by the fake reviewers.



We tend to develop positive feelings about something when we see it over and over again. Marketers take advantage of this psychological disposition by showing their products on billboards, TV shows, and movies. It could be as simple as getting every actor in a TV show to use a particular phone brand.  The use of these gimmicks in advertising creates subconscious brand awareness in the mind of viewers.


Expert’s Opinion

Manufacturers of toothpaste, antiseptics, and medicated soaps use this marketing gimmick the most. What makes a toothpaste more appealing than a doctor or a health organization promoting the product? Even though we have no way to verify the authenticity of the expert, our minds capture the product as reliable because we instinctively believe the expert recommendation.

It works the same way for brands that use influencers and celebrities to sell their products. People tend to buy the product because they want to be like or look like their favorite celebrities.



The world is getting increasingly competitive, and no one/business wants to be left behind. Every day, marketers are rolling out creative and innovative marketing gimmicks to compel consumers to buy, so they can stay in the market. Our choice of purchase is greatly influenced by these gimmicks, whether we are aware or not. Our minds respond to them quickly and unconsciously decide that we are making the purchase long before deciding to buy.

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Author’s Bio

Ellen is an expert in digital marketing. She creates digital marketing campaigns for many leading brands. When she’s not creating content, she enjoys reading, traveling and researching marketing trends. She publishes the results of her research on websites and several leading digital marketing blogs.

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