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Influences and Effects of Subliminal Advertising Consumption Decision Imprimir E-mail

 Revista Científica Visión de Futuro
Año 1 - N° 2 - Vol. 2
Julio a Diciembre de 2004
ISSN 1668 - 8708 versión en línea
ISSN 1669 - 7634 versión impresa

  Dra. Nilda C. Tañski

Universidad Nacional de Misiones
Facultad de Ciencias Económicas
Departamento de Administración
Ruta Nac. 12 Km. 7 1/2. Miguel Lanús - Misiones - Argentina

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One of the main factors that impact on consumption is advertising. Varied perceptions take place in consumers, which are constantly varying.
Not all receive the same message in the same way, and some perceive the same, giving them more importance than others.
For this research, this study was carried out in the city of Posadas (Province of Misiones - Argentina) to determine if the behaviour of managers, religious leaders, journalists and politician consumer segments, go through or do not go through mental processes, as influenced by communication strategies, to perceive the different trade market offers and to become consumers.
The economic weight of advertising, in these latter times, has reached great proportions, and produces very quick, and spectacular effects.
While products multiply and hundreds of new ones appear, the means also become prolific.
Adding to this the great social changes, it is easy to understand the complex task of advertisers in the modern world.
Technologically satellites, (communications via Internet), have been the most important communicational revolution of the end of the last century.
The future of advertising will not only be bound to its own creative capacity, but to the speed and certainty with which they adapt themselves to the new means, many of which still do not exist.
Not only will the new means be challenging, but also the new products, many which have not yet even been designed, nor thought of, will arise as demands of new and unheard of societies(1), of which the consumer becomes the leading character. .

KEYWORDS: Advertising, Consumption, Subliminal, Changes.

Characteristic of subliminal advertising

Advertising, is a key tool to reach the consumer, through it the image and trade mark capital, is created.
Due to that, immediate answers cannot be expected, since it can only be evaluated by the consumer in the long term as to the solidity and the attractiveness with which it has built a mental product. People possess subliminal knowledge, for example, when they show part of something, some letters of a word, insinuations in certain shapes, special sounds, etc; it is when imagination takes charge of overcoming the conscience threshold and carries out transmission.
The sub mind goes on keeping facts through time, which is overlooked by the conscience.
Using visual as well as oral stimuli, we explore the ways through which the sub mind is able to harbour those patterns, before conscious thoughts. The unconscious goes ahead of the conscious.
For that reason, the problem arises of not knowing what is, and what is not, the truly important thing. The situations facing a consumer, with such a number of options to choose from, and so much influence from the environment, permanently confuse him, it is because they do not have a clear idea as to how to conceptualise the differences, or which are the aspects of the available information that should be kept in mind, and which have to be ignored; they are overflowed by the great number of "offers" because they have not yet discovered through experience, what is the important thing in each case; which aspects should be put on in the centre and which in the conscience background.

Codes and languages influences

Man constantly perceives on the one hand events and things with physical and chemical characteristics, projected in the facts and in the ideas and on the other hand there are the ideas, that is to say what he himself forms regarding those facts and things.
We live simultaneously between the physical things and their mental images: we need both of them to think.(2)
Thus, when a product is presented through advertising, that same image will have several interpretations in the mind of each consumer who sees the message and each consumer will have a different consumer preference.
The tendency indicates that in just a short time, some products will be totally globalized, that is to say they will cross the frontiers with their promotions and advertising.
When transmitting an advertising expression, the codes and languages of the society, are generally considered
The transmission by means of advertising, even though highly positive, runs the risk of not being perceived by each one with the same impact. This sometimes happens due to what is unpublished in the message, unusual and its distinctive ideas.
Also in this way of transmitting, the minds and attitudes go towards communicators, capable of speaking several languages, it is not necessarily languages, one can have the ability to receive a message in one language and to decode it to another one.
The sub mind(3) of a person is responsible for the "arrival" of new ideas, be they appropriate or inadequate. Reason and logic act as the environment, examining each factor and making sure that they only live in the most qualified ones.
It is said that modern(4) man is able to communicate ideas with a vocabulary of approximately 4,000 words. Within that terms bank, each one of us possesses a language base of favourite words, which reflects the way that the brain and the mind are handled with the information.
But also, within a maternal language each speaker has his own base language. Way back in 1972, scientists, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, researched these personal languages and created what has been called Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP.
In a generic way, almost everything in life and in nature is foreseeable, except the human being. Advertising message transmission through the media, should be carried out thinking on the target, because first of all, people should be understood, know what they want, so as to be able to orient the offer in a company, in any other way this communication would be a failure. You must guide that offer, so that consumption is carried out effectively.
Also, you cannot analyse as strategy, attitude, influence, presence, as sooner or later, it is the public who decides.
The untiring task of the professional communicator is to know intimately the society in which he lives, and to be nurtured by it, so as to be able to give consumers satisfactory answers.
People are endowed with true programs which interpret the world with the available information they have, and they do it with a with a data comparison system, which they have filed beforehand, these automatic systems would be those which provide a code that facilitates the handling in this world.

Mind Thresholds

We could say that there is a threshold in each human being, on the one hand the inferior one below which the sub mind is activated and another superior one, on which the information penetrates to the conscience.
The closer these two thresholds are, the closer the contact with the unconscious and the more complete will be the conscience awareness, of what happens in all the mind territories.

The further away the thresholds, the poorer the conscious awareness.

Everything perceived by human beings can be considered as symbolic, or functional or as both things. The symbolic meaning, works within the unconscious, be it verbally or not. The symbols imply rather what an object or situation means for each one. The symbolic meanings seem to constitute the base on which perception becomes something deeply significant.
In this way the information(5) to which you have access, on one hand is "decoded", i.e., interpreted according to one's own code. It is also incomplete, since you cannot accede to all the existent information in a given reality moment.
So, as to better solve the environment informational chaos, the mind carries out a selection process, developing systems "to extract from world only the needed information"(6)

Product Advertising

Consumption is carried out, when a client has decided for a certain product.
Many times that choice is influenced by advertising and makes things to be seen in a different way, products which before were not taken into account.
The following kinds of products(7) can be considered in the trade market.

1 - Physical product - functional
2 - Economic product
3 - Imaginary product

1 - The functional physical product - could be defined as a tool to solve problems. It is the product in itself, it is given by its chemical composition, weight, colour, aroma, size or shape and it fulfils functions or services for the user, cleaning, to ornament, to feed, to transport.
The functional products should present a group of functional attributes for example, the case of the virtues present in the Tetra Brik containers, so as to obtain differential advantages, in that case the paper of the packaging is considered as to the container practicability. The consumer, at the moment of acquiring the product, involves each one of these aspects.

2 - The economic product is the tool to measure the value of the functional product and of the imaginary product. Through the economic product profitability is pursued.

3 - The imaginary product is a subjective tool to satisfy the consumers' desires; it is the product seen from the demand as a symbolic promise.

Although the three products are important, the imaginary product is taken in a greater grade of analysis in this case.
The consumptions vary significantly considering the imaginary product, as the product that goes through the consumer's mind. First, the imaginary product is bought, and after choosing that product that promises them all that they want, consequently the functional product is acquired.
The consumer attends to his motivations for buying a product, the imaginary product becomes a promise that significantly exceeds the possibilities of the functional product, if the consumer is disappointed with that promise, he does not buy it again.
The three products are linked, and the relationship product - trade market, supposes an integration.
But, even the three being considered as very important and integrated, in this research, the imaginary product stands out, since the fundamental object of the study is to determine what he consumes, when he consumes, how much does he consume, why does he consume, for what reason does he consume and if he will consume that same product again.
All these questions are taken into account, when deciding what to purchase.
According to the analysis carried out in the city of Posadas about certain consumptions, it is observed that taking different segments and different consumption types, they all coincide that prior to that they carry out a "mental construction" of that which they will acquire.

Posadas, Capital of the Province of Misiones (Argentina) physical space for the sample study.
Population: 219,824
Surface: 29,801 Kil. 2
Founded : 25th March 1615. Main cities: Oberá - Apóstoles - Iguazú - Jardín América - Eldorado - L. N. Alem
Density: 26.5 Inhab. Per Kmt.2
Illiteracy: 8.3 %
Resources: Agricultural, Mining and Forestry.
Industry: YerbaMate (ilexp araguayensis) milling, Sawmills and Tourism
Thus we find out that 80% of the interviewed businessmen, suggest that when they consume a product they do so due to the perception they had of it. Taking into account the opinion of the religious leaders, 95% consider consumption in function of perceptions, there is the same opinion from 60% of the political sector and 70% of the journalist sector.

Religious Leaders

Aspects which influence the message

It is clear that when something is perceived, the mind intervenes, and it is consumed only if in that perception, through the order given by the mind, says yes.
To make a product known to another person, when emitting the advertising message, the receiver not only keeps in mind the product itself, but also to the whole environment that is part of that product, for example to perceive a good image of the product, but if this it is accompanied by an unpleasant voice, too quick a conversation, or a soft voice which loses itself, so as to highlight the feeling of inferiority or transmitting in a monotonous voice as an indication of depression and pessimism; will make those factors influence the product as a whole, because they are part of it.
When carrying out a communication, it is rarely only a question of the concrete matter. The words should also have an effect, to motivate the speaker to do a certain thing.
The Hamburg communications expert Friedemann Schulz von Thun(8), explains that, in any news, four messages or aspects are included:

1. The objective content, that what is being reported.
2. The personal revelation, that is to say, what is oneself communicates.
3. The appeal, that is to say, that what is required to animate the other.
4. The relationship, that which one thinks of the other one and the position with regards to him.

Let us suppose a case, you are comfortably seated in the living room. Your son comes in, and leaves the door open. You say: There is a draught. This is, in the first place, a verification (objective content); but, at the same time, it is communicating that he is cold (personal revelation); he would probably like his son to close the door (appeal), and possibly you are drawing his attention that he is not right to leave the door open (relationship). Now your son has the possibility of interpreting this in his ownway, what you could have meant, by saying "There is a draught". .
The conclusion we reach through this theory of communication is the following one: one should meditate on which is the most important aspect for the person when communicating with somebody and to express it directly. If he wants his son to close the door, he should say: "Close the door, please." This is a direct transmission of the message.

Subliminal messages

The subliminal message is governed by the idea that the conscious mind judges and the subconscious one acts with the memory database. The most famous example was the Popcorn Experiment, when a North American cinema inserted popcorn images, within the movie frames, that it was projecting. Through this action they were able to prove that unconsciously people perceived the desire to consume popcorn.
All movies provide some subliminal visual stimulus. The information received at the centre of the screen is picked up by the conscious mind, and a judgement is emitted on them before storing them. The information that comes from the edges of the screen, avoids the conscious mind and goes directly to the subconscious one without being judged, which generates a much deeper feeling regarding it. For this reason it is that when one looks at a movie on a large screen it is much more touching, more moving. The same film, seen on television, does not usually cause so much of an impact. This is because on the small screen all the information is received by the conscious mind, and it is judged before being stored in the subconscious.
The auditory subliminal messages work in the same way. When one receives information that enters the subconscious directly, this is not judged, it is only stored and one acts based on it.
The problems do not produce themselves with the memory but with the possibility of evoking. This implies that so that others remember what they have heard, one should be careful with the way in which the information is presented.
Behaviour (9) does not depends only of the conscious reactions, in which one had "time to think", but rather there are 0.5 seconds in which one can react, according to what our non conscious mind orders or (in other terms) decides, and which interests teaching so as to control those acts, it is that part of the brain not kept in mind, where programs act below the conscious one. This is the base of what is known as subliminal perception.

Unconscious Perception

Subliminal(10) perception already appeared in Demócrito's writings (400 B.C.) who said that "much of the perceptible things are not perceived by us". Plato spoke of this notion in his Timeo writing. Aristotle explained in a more detailed way the thresholds of the subliminal conscience in his Perva Naturalia, almost two thousand years ago, and he seems to be the first in suggesting that the non perceived stimuli in a conscious way, could well affect dreams.
Indeed, a conscious association can cause a subliminal perception buried deeply in the unconscious for weeks, months or maybe years after perception taking place. It is necessary to keep in mind the promise that makes this demonstrable theory, for all those that are in the business of controlling and influencing human behaviour.
The public media has concentrated on the development of the subliminal technique directed to the sensorial forces during the these last years.
The conscious perception operates within specific frequencies be it of light or sound. However, outside the reach of what is consciously perceived by sight and hearing, there are subliminal frequencies capable of being communicated. The information transmitted on these invisible frequencies is only perceived by the unconscious part of the human brain.
Due to that, many times there appear to be consumptions that are carried out as a consequence of a subliminal effect, because the message arrives to the subconscious and reacts at that level.
Summing up, what we have said, indicates that "one is not aware of the events at the moment they take place, but one does believe it is so".
The world is much richer than what is perceived in a conscious way. The best data enter through the unconscious mind, the problem is that most people deny their possibilities to see beyond, because culturally that which is not rational, is not considered "serious".
However, all the above-mentioned indicate that there is subliminal perception, and this influences on later behaviours, to be able to take advantage of the mental capacity and to control decisions, one needs to know the information that is incoming, not only in a conscious way, but also that which is being perceiving in the deep mind.
According to García Rodríguez "the attention is the exercise of only noticing an unitary part among the rich panorama offered to us by our perceptive world. Attention is an exercise of narrowing the conscience field, following a deepening of this one" (11).
There is information which is discarded, another which cannot be perceive (sensorial limit) and finally the incoming one that enters the mental processor which it leaves reinterpreted according to an own code.
Reality is perceived in this way the, according to the information which arrives, on which the non conscious mind has made its decision of what and how to interpret it.


The perceived (12) world is generally a mirror of the preconceived personal ideas and of the concerns.
Taking a trivial example, that of the saliva, if one accumulates some saliva in the mouth, one feels how the tongue is being lubricated as it moves toward the teeth, giving a non unpleasant feeling.
Then one takes a clean glass, spits inside it and drinks it. One perceives that this act of consuming something that until a moment ago was pleasant, becomes repulsive.
The matter is that perception and attitude towards the same thing, change drastically. What was something clean and natural has become, in that action outside the body, something dirty and unpleasant. It is not the saliva that has changed, it is only the interpretation made of it.
The development of a wide sensibility is an explicit goal that empowers communication capacity and at the same time the perceptive one, which notably rebounds in the understanding of the environment and in its own evolution.
On the other hand the human being has a series of limitations that restrict, and distort, the environment information. This gives as a result a certain addressing, to the perception which one has of it.
In this sense it is where emotions are related to perception, the perceived registration is filtered by the emotional valuation.
"Emotions (13), are those which in fact determine what we do, although we believe that we determine it rationally, reason only intervenes in the how we do it, that is to say in the procedure."
From a publicity point of view, you can create a psychological tendency towards a consumption, giving differential values to products that did not have a certain space, that is how we observe that trade marks are positioned and are displaced by others.

Subliminal influence

Subliminal influence is not only given in advertising(14) which in a brief time, could be captured consciously, continuously one receives influence from the messages received, even against one's own will; which many times go against the interests. They appear in diverse circumstances and not only when looking at a advertisement.

The sub mind is in permanent communication with the external world, without those communications coming out to the conscience.
The capacity of doing things without thinking is notorious, even activities that require a high cognitive demand.
Thus it is observed that consumers have a great tendency to select products due to "subconscious influences."
The term subliminal influences is used here to describe the sensorial forces of the human nervous system that surrounds it or they are suppress by the conscious conscience or, simpler, forces that communicate with the unconscious. Of course the term has common implications, such as brain washing, manipulation and other dishonest practices, scientifically, maybe it would be more appropriate to denominate it as subliminal reception, initial regulation, unconscious perception and sub perception .
Doubtlessly it could be thought that at present, in a modern world that depends and emerges from an atmosphere dominated by massive media, all those that do not know how to read and to understand the subliminal languages of symbolic illusion are illiterate from the functional point of view.
The industrial designers include subliminal meanings in such products as automobiles, soft drink bottles, lawn mowers, clothing, food containers, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, houses and house