Selling fear is more profitable than selling products
How far must organizations go to be able to use and capitalize on the emotion of fear to drive growth and increase revenue?
From a business perspective, companies are harnessing the power of fear-based marketing to stimulate and motivate consumers to purchase a product or service by making them think about the intangible consequences they are likely to face if they don’t. not buy the product. This can be implemented with the use of traditional or digital media.
Psychologically, individuals feel the need to be part of an event or trend and to fit into a culture. This dynamic is therefore applied as a marketing tool, so that we now live in a “consumer” society where selling the fear of not using the product or service has become more essential than selling the product itself.
The play of emotions contributes to the power of fear-based marketing, which companies use extensively to sell their products. For example, if an organization wants to sell an educational program, it may instill in consumers the fear of being unemployed as a consequence of not participating in the program.
While the program itself does not guarantee employment upon completion, fear is used to sell it. This is where the ethics surface, as there is a fine line between using this marketing tool for the right reasons and using it solely for the profitability of the organization.
Marketing is done and conducted by creating campaigns that align with and reflect societal needs and wants, while product demand is generated as a reflection of fear-based marketing information provided to consumers. Both are reflections of each other.
Organizations then tap into an unethical path where they disregard the need of the consumer, the satisfaction rate and the value obtained by the customer when consuming the product. This would sometimes cause consumers to take out loans, go into debt because they might not be able to afford the good or service offered to them. All of this only to achieve the perceived goal that has been marketed to them.
How then do we draw the line in the ethical use of fear-based marketing? The gap between what the organization cares about and what customers need is very narrow and therefore companies should claim responsibility and try to force more positivity into the brand storytelling.
In order to mitigate the negative impact of fear-based marketing, organizations need to be mindful of their consumers, be honest, and ask themselves if what they are selling has value for consumers in the first place.
The use of fear-based tactics has shown that consumers will sooner or later discover the truth behind the information provided to them, leading them to give up doing business with the organization. This causes the company to lose customer loyalty, which is a key metric for the organization because that is what it is aiming for.
Emphasis should be placed on building relationships with customers rooted in the truthfulness, authenticity and transparency of their business and the benefits of their products or services, which would further lead to building trust and improving the customer loyalty, which is more valuable.
The writer is an entrepreneur and digital marketer