Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, June 24, 2004





The selling of a product:


Maherin Ahmed

A customer walks into a store. He stands in front of hundreds of boxes of laundry detergent. He chooses one brand, pays for it, and leaves. Why does he pick that specific kind of soap? Is it truly better than others? Probably not. These days, many products are nearly identical to another in quality and price. If products are almost the same, what makes consumers buy one brand instead of another? Although we might not like to admit it, commercials on television and advertisements in magazines probably influence us much more than we think they do.

Advertising informs consumers about new products available on the market. It gives us information about everything from shampoo to toothpaste. On the other hand, there is one serious problem with this. The "information" is actually very often "misinformation". It tells us the products' benefits but hides their setbacks. Advertising not only leads us to buy things that we don't need and make us spend recklessly, but it also confuses our sense of reality. "Whiz toothpaste prevents cavities and gives you a white teeth!" the advertisements tell us.

It doesn't tell us the complete truth- that a healthy and a good toothbrush will have the same effect, and that's more important than the toothpaste.

Advertisers use many methods to make us buy their products. One of their most successful methods is to make us feel dissatisfied with ourselves, and our imperfect lives. Advertisements show us who we aren't, and what we don't have. Our teeth aren't white enough. Our hair isn't shiny enough. Our clothes aren't clean enough. Advertisements make us afraid that people won't like us if we don't use the advertised products. " Why don't I have friends?" an attractive young man sadly asks in the commercial. " Here", replies his roommate, "Try Whiz toothpaste!" of course he tries it, and immediately he notices the change. "That's a stupid commercial," we might say. We still buy Whiz toothpaste out of fear of being unpopular and being rejected in public.

If fear is the negative motive for buying a product, then, of course, a good self- image is the positive reason for choosing it. Each of us has a good picture of the kind of person we would like to be. For example, a modern young woman might like to think that she looks like a beautiful movie star. A young man might want to see himself as a strong, attractive, handsome hero of movies. Two people may choose different brands of toothpaste with the identical price, amount, and quality. Each person believes that he is expressing his personality by choosing that brand.

Advertisers get psychologists to study the way consumers think, and their reasons for choosing one brand instead of another. These experts tell advertisers about the motives of fear and self- image. They also inform them about the recent studies with colors and word. Psychologists have found that certain colors of the package of an attractive product will cause people to reach out and take package instead of buying an identical product with different colors. Also, certain words attract our attention. For example, the words "new", "improved", "natural", and "giant size" are very popular and seem to draw our eyes and hands toward the package.

Many people believe that advertising does not affect them. They feel that they have freedom of choice and they like to think, they make wise choices. Unfortunately, they probably don't realize the powerful effect of advertising. They may not clearly understand that advertisers spend billions of dollars each year in aggressive competition for our money, and they are extremely successful. Do you still believe that ads don't influence your choice of products? Just take a look at your kitchen and bathroom.



Tashmia Zaman

The girl entered the cafe. "Wow! She's pretty. I have to impress her!" the teen boy muttered to himself and lights up a cigarette. Within seconds he's bagged the girl, who's impressed with his 'coolness'.

Yes I am describing an advertisement of a famous cigarette brand. This tells us how harmful advertisement can be for us. It's not only persuasive but also its making us go for something which is bad for our health.

- Now days, a large percentage of our population, from teenagers to adults, are victims of this habit of smoking. Teenagers usually learn smoking from their friends or even by seeing their parents smoke which they think would make them look like adults or cooler then the rest. They often smoke out of frustration or stress, thinking that smoking would help them get over these things happening in school, college and even at home. It also comes from curiosity or rebellion i.e. you do it because you want to make your own decisions and you know that your family or others do not want you to smoke. The symptoms of youngsters smoking
- They start staying in their rooms more often.
- Rooms start looking smoky with cigarettes smells all over it and to clear it with parents they usually make excuses like "My friends smoke, I promise I don't."

At that moment hiding it from parents becomes their main aim but hardly do they know that this small cigarette can be a threat to their very lives. Smoking is a kind of addiction and the nicotine in the cigarette makes you addicted to it.

Here is a true story about a boy named Steven. "I was 12 when I started smoking. When I used to see my dad smoking I tried to copy him and one day with the help of my friends I not only copied him but also captured his habit. Now it's messing up my whole life. I am having breathing problems lately and to make it worse, I am losing my stamina. I was a very fast runner in school but I guess I don't have the lungs anymore." Steven is 15 now. Other illnesses caused by smoking are fatal heart diseases which might even lead to stroke, peptic ulcers, bone fractures, sleeping disorders and last but not the least lungs cancer (almost everyone who has lung cancer is either smoker or living with a smoker). So we can see that smokers are not only threatening their own lives but also the life of others.

How to quit smoking? I once saw a movie where a psycho man named Gerald who used to kidnap smokers from the street and held them captive in his attic till they learned how to stop smoking. He used to threaten them with dire consequences unless they quit, and only released them when they finally stopped smoking. I wish we had a lot of psycho people like Gerald to stop people from smoking but in real life it's different. If you want to quit smoking, talk to your health care provider or counselor about finding a way to quit. Be committed to your decision. Set a quit deadline by getting support from true friends and family. Quitting is difficult, so don't be hard on yourself if you make a mistake. Try to stick with quitting and don't give up. If you have friends that smoke, one of the greatest contributions you can make to their life is to help them stop smoking. Remember one thing 'Life is short itself and by smoking you are making it shorter.


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