Marketing: Surrounding Distractions

By Christopher Zoukis

According to Marketingprofs, an online group of marketing professors, research demonstrates two things affect why affluent customers prefer one luxury product over another product. The first is the product’s “informational components,” which refers to what the product is made of, where it was made, and who made it. The second is the product’s “affective components,” which means how it makes the customer feel.  Photo courtesy of

Of the two, the “affective component” or the sensory element is the one that drastically influences the affluent customer to buy it. In other words, if the product produces a pleasant feeling in the customer, they will buy it, regardless of price. Why?

The experts at Marketingprofs explain that surrounding distractions come into play. Conversation, nearby displays, music, and scenery are examples of distractions. These distractions are not contradictory to pleasant feelings. In fact, they promote pleasant feelings. When customers are distracted, this diverts their thought processes away from the “informational components” of the product. Which means feelings enter the picture. So customers who are distracted rely on how they feel about a product to influence their decisions to buy.

This explains why affluent customers shop at Abercrombie & Fitch. They like the way they feel while in the store. This pleasant feeling is produced by the distractions of loud music, the distinctive odor of the dry goods, the various color schemes, and the arrayed products for sale. All these factors divert attention away from the “informational components,” such as price and quality. The context of the store is distracting. So the customers respond to their feelings about the experience. Which, more often than not, means they decide to buy.

For the same reasons, customers at the Vesuvio Bar, distracted by meeting new people, conversation, waitresses, magic tricks, and drinking alcoholic beverages, feel at ease. This is a pleasant feeling, which causes them to order food and more beverages. It is a feeling that brings them back to the Vesuvio Bar again and again.

An interesting example of how customers feel about a product is illustrated by the Dupont Company’s research into panty hose. Dupont makes fibers for women’s hosiery, and wanted to know more about why women wore panty hose and what they liked and disliked about panty hose. To conduct the research, Dupont engaged the services of Jerry Zaltman, who invented the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique, ZMET for short. ZMET uses neurobiology, semantics, art theory and psychoanalysis to figure out why people buy.

Dupont already knew two things about women and panty hose. Women wore them, but according to most data, hated them at the same time. Dupont knew women hated panty hose. What Dupont wanted to know was why women kept wearing them and how to market panty hose. Zaltman discovered the relationship between women and panty hose was complicated. The results?

Zaltman discovered women really do not like wearing panty hose. Women wear panty hose for subliminal reasons that revolve around sex. Panty hose made women’s legs feel longer. This was important because women believe men like long legs, because long legs are sexy. The women bought and wore panty hose because they wanted to feel sexy.

This information changed the way Dupont marketed panty hose to affluent women. The marketing included images of strong, confident women, who were also sexy. At the same time, the marketing campaign did not disguise the fact that panty hose were an inconvenience to women. Dupont understood this and cared, but the company also reminded women by means of marketing images of the allurement inherent in wearing panty hose.

Marketing luxury goods and services to affluent customers cannot be divorced from the psychology of feeling. People buy products, and most affluent people make their buying decisions based on their feelings. The reality of marketing to the affluent is this: to be successful, sellers must examine how feelings are elicited in their target market and use the knowledge wisely.