Marshmallows and Public Policy

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When is it wise for marketers to use delay gratification with sales promotions? I believe three factors should be taken into consideration when marketers are developing a sales promotion plan for an integrated marketing communication plan: 1. What is the target market’s socioeconomic status/life success? 2. Are the products being sold high involvement or low involvement? 3. Do the promotions help move consumers through a journey where they can visualize the rewards being offered? A marketer should ask, who is their target market? Based on the two different behavioral patterns of the children in the Walter Michel experiment, marketers should be able to create sales promotions that will appeal to different characteristic types. The experiment showed approximately 70% of participants did not have enough self-control to reap the benefits potentially obtained from delayed gratification. These low delayers were found to struggle in school, have smaller attention spans and an inability to think and plan ahead. I believe these characteristics stick with a person throughout their lives and can imply their eventful life successes won’t be as pronounced. These people will probably have lower socioeconomic status and respond favorably to instant gratification sales promotions. The opposite is true for those who displayed self-control. Their eventful life will hold greater successes therefore placing them in higher socioeconomic brackets. Their ability to visualize the results of delayed gratification is greater. Marketers should use this study to analyze these behaviors when defining a target market and creating a sales promotion. Whether the product is high or low involvement should also be considered. Low involvement products tend to be less expensive and have little affect on the consumers’ life. Instant gratification sales promotions will work best for these products. The less impact a product has on a consumers’ life, the less likely they will...
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