Is Advertising Creating Artificial Needs?

Topics: John Kenneth Galbraith, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Need Pages: 7 (2669 words) Published: November 16, 2012
Does advertising create artificial wants?
Mariya Krasteva

Most companies nowadays perceive advertisements as a way of survival. Big corporations who gained the largest market share in their industry never stopped advertising, because they are not sure what the effect will be and if they do it, how soon they are going to be forgotten. The market has a need for different and innovative ways to entertain and attract customers to buy, but companies are sometimes crossing the line. Whether advertising creates artificial wants is a very controversial issue. The first thought on that issue is that advertisers do really influence consumer’s wants and desires, but is it so? People differentiate from animals because they are rational human beings with the capacity of making reasonable choices. Being rational allows them to make rational choices and decisions in terms of what to buy and in this case which advertisements to perceive as reliable. People have the right to choose how to spend their money and the right to pursuit happiness and comfort by buying products that will make them happy and satisfied. However John Kenneth Galbraith, a well-known economist who defends anti-consumerism, says that everything people want beyond their basic needs is neither “urgent”, nor “important”. But addressing Abraham Harold Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, in order to live normally, human beings require more than just to satisfying the “physiological”, because people have inborn need for “safety”, “love”, “belongingness”, “esteem”, and “self-actualization” needs. Considering that a truth Galbraith is not right because without feeling safe, beautiful, powerful, happy, looking fancy, being desired, respected, loved etc., people would not be able to live and will not have any desire for improvement. In order to prove that people have free choice and are able to make rational decisions I would address real life examples that are not connected to consumer behavior. People have free will to choose who to love based on perception and criteria, or feelings. People can make a decision, legal or not, to start stealing, in other words human beings are capable of shaping values according to what they perceive as “good”. When it comes to self-actualization needs, deciding whether to struggle for educational and intellectual improvement, they choose to be motivated or to give up. People are also using free will to decide if they want to go to Para planning and rise up their adrenaline or stay at home watching TV and feeling safe. They also choose the group or type of people in the community they want to belong to. They can decide what to respect and honor, for instance in terms of political views. In contrast, Professor Galbraith states that people let advertisements not only influence, but also shape their buying decisions. He questions people’s rationality, underestimates their ability to think, implying that people are easily manipulated and bullied. As opposed to Galbraith’s logic putting it in the context of today’s world people are more educated and not that easily manipulated by the advertisements in terms of choice for a few reasons. Firstly, the most recent economic crisis brought changes in consumers’ buying decisions and behavior in terms of rational choices, because they are even more price sensitive, struggling to find the affordable equilibrium between the quality and price, concerning almost everything they buy. Secondly, today it is harder to persuade a person. The consequences of continuous exposure to the cluster of advertising messages over the years and previous bad experiences made many people exclude advertisements from their buying decisions. Consumers are getting more and more careful and advertisements lost credibility in persuasive messages.

According Galbraith people are not giving so much thought while buying something, he states those human beings are easily manipulated and make impulsive decisions. In contrast the...
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