IELTS® Listening Practice 24

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Listening Script Vocabulary

(Section 4: You will hear a talk on the topic of psychology and advertising. First, you will have some time to look at questions 33 to 40 [20 seconds]. Listen carefully and answer questions 33 to 40.)


Good evening, everyone. Thanks for joining me for the first lecture of the semester. The topic for today is psychology and advertising. 

Now, it’s important to start by saying that the vast majority of marketers aren’t psychologists. However, many successful marketers often use psychology to attract customers. There are four main tactics that advertisers use: emotion, highlighting flaws or faults in a product, labelling and promoting exclusivity. Now, let’s go through these one by one. 

First off, let’s look at how advertisers use emotion to get customers to buy. Studies have shown that emotions are much more successful in getting customers to react than simply pointing out a product’s features and functions. So, advertisements that appeal to a customer’s emotions – jealousy or happiness, say – are more effective than adverts that focus on features like the smell of a shampoo or the speed of a car. Showing how a new computer will improve a potential customer’s life tends to have more influence than simply explaining how it works.

The second trick advertisers use is to point out the product’s faults. Now, this sounds like a strange concept. Why would an advertiser draw attention to a product’s weak points? Well, it’s no secret that consumers tend to doubt marketing claims – for good reasons. Many simply aren’t credible. One way to raise credibility and make the customer believe in the product is to point out its shortcomings. I’ll give you an example. There was an ad for Volkswagen and the first image was a one-word headline: ‘lemon’. Now, a lemon is a fruit, of course, but ‘lemon’ in this context means ‘fault’ or ‘dud’. The next image was an inspector’s report stating that she had found a very small mark on the car’s glove compartment and it would have to be replaced before it was sold. So, the idea was that Volkswagen pays attention to detail and so the cars they sell are perfect when they reach the customer. The Lemon ad became a textbook example of how to optimize credibility.

The next tactic is labelling. This is basically when the advertisement tells the buyers something good about themselves. A good example of labelling is when the Jif brand launched an advertising campaign called ‘Choosy mums choose Jif’. So, by saying that mothers who choose Jif products were choosy, they were saying that mothers who choose different brands didn’t care about the food their kids ate. Now, what mother doesn’t want to think of herself as a choosy mum?

Next up is the concept of exclusivity. Now, you’ve all heard of Maslow’s pyramid of needs. If you look at the diagram in your notes, you’ll see it. So, at the bottom of the pyramid you have the most important things that humans need to be satisfied. So, what we call physiological needs like food, shelter, warmth etc. On top of that you’ll see safety. These are what we call basic needs. Above them, in the third row and fourth rows, it mentions psychological needs like love and relationships. Now, right at top of the pyramid sits self-esteem. What does that mean? Well, people want to feel important, like they’re part of an exclusive group. That’s why adverts sometimes send a message that says, ‘we’re not for everyone’. In other words, you have to be special to buy this product. An example is the U.S. Marines, which ran a very successful campaign for years with the tagline: ‘The Few. The Proud’. Another example, and perhaps the most famous modern example of exclusivity in advertising, is the American Express tagline: ‘Membership has its privileges’.

So, that covers the four main psychological tactics that advertisers use…

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