Does Evolutionary Psychology Impact How Advertisements are Received?
May 26, 2021
Accept it or not, marketing and advertising are driven somewhat, if not thoroughly, by human psychology. Both are dedicated to eliciting the desired response from an audience. Relevant content across all platforms- social media, newspapers, television, billboards- is curated to appeal to an audience, to make them stop and listen or see. Thus, agencies must streamline their resources according to consumer behaviour in marketing for optimised results.
Where does evolutionary psychology come into play, though?
Standardisation Versus Adaptation- A Dilemma
People across the globe may respond similarly to the same advertisement. Standardisation approaches in the advertising discourse entail that marketing professionals can use the same advertisements everywhere.
On the other hand, the Adaptation approach suggests that the individual’s overall environmental context determines their responses. Advertisements must be localised accordingly.
An important point to be highlighted here is that academics tend to favour the Standardisation approach, while marketing agencies and other practitioners swear by the Adaptation model. This debate has persisted for years.
Evolutionary Psychology 101 and Consumer Behaviour in Marketing
This antagonism between both exists because theorists fail to provide grassroots applications of the Standardisation model. We’re here to fill this gap.
Evolutionary Psychology optimises Standardisation approaches for real-time practicality. Here’s how.
We can categorise all human behaviour in three packets of evolutionary (or otherwise) response as explained below. We can then merge our findings into our marketing endeavours.
- Human Universals- Every trait belonging to this category has taken shape from evolution. These traits are instinctual and shared by everyone.
For example, as reductive as this is to women today, the so-called hourglass shape is universally liked by men. It is thought to be associated with reproductivity and fertility. Packaging shaped like an hourglass also tends to do better on the shelves. Thus, it can be standardised all over in marketing and advertising.
- Local Adaptations- These are evolved differences, i.e. responses that differ, say, regionally. They emerged to combat respective evolutionary problems.
Personal space, for instance, is preferred more in colder regions than in hotter ones- even within the same country. Keep this in mind while developing hyperlocal marketing strategies and commercial advertisements.
- Local Specialisations- Behavioural differences that have arisen from socio-cultural norms are called Local Specialisations. They cannot necessarily be predicted because they are not responses to the local environment, per se.
Consider humour. It is highly subjective even at the individual level, but larger cultural preferences vary- and this is starkly evident. What’s funny in America can be offensive in India, and vice versa. Agencies must curate marketing and advertising to appeal to the target audience. Market research becomes necessary here.
Categorising human behaviour in these parameters condenses the entirety of our responses in boxes of market segments. When looking to elicit a particular response from an audience, you can open your Pandora’s box and curate content accordingly. Now it may be standardised or adapted, but one thing will remain universal- Your marketing and advertising strategies will evolve.