I am an unusual consumer. I am fiercely brand loyal, and I really can’t tell you why. For example: I like German cars, (but this is probably bred into me) and there is one brand of gherkins I choose above all others to the extent where I will go to another store to buy them. I am also very suspicious of advertising messages and the media’s attempts to persuade me. Then in an unexpected turn of events, I ended up deep in the media industry. And I love it.
The most dangerous result of this is that I now pay more attention to billboards and street pole ads than I do to the road. My boss has asked me to think about every message I receive. So now I see something and my brain tries to work out why is it there and what is it trying to achieve. Being a n00b, I’m often unsure about these, but I puzzle them out while trying to negotiate my way through Johannesburg traffic. I also take a good long look at who owns the billboard or whatever medium, because I deal with these companies almost daily and it makes for good banter and rapport building to be able to say something about somewhere.
And now, I categorize people according to their LSM levels. I constantly hold back from asking my friends about their ‘consumer behaviour’ and why they like x more than y. I imagine this would be very annoying. Interrogation is not great dinner table conversation. I also have to stop myself from telling them to watch channel a at time b so that they are exposed to a client’s ad.
This is my life now: I live, sleep and breathe media. I don’t eat it, because enjoying food should always be separate from everything else. I am still that unusual consumer, but I understand so much better now and I respect the work behind it. And I respect the people behind the final product.
These things don’t just happen. It’s all planned and it’s much more involved than you, as the audience, would ever imagine. Oh, and you’re not that immune either. Somehow, we will get you.
Being a part of this is exciting. I find it deeply stimulating and devour all the information I can lay my hands on. It interests me and I ‘get it’. I am hoping that soon the aspects I grapple with now will become second nature to me.