Essay, 14 pages (3500 words)

Why marketers use negative statements about their product?

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Executive Summary

My topic is about the marketers using negative statement about their own product. My research starts with a brief introduction about reverse psychology which is the main theme for using negative statement about own product. Then, there is detailed discussion with the help of examples that why marketers use negative statements and how it helps them to attract people to try their product. First is to steer away people from actual purpose of the product. Secondly it is used to get attraction from the customers. Using unusual words is a quick way to drag customer’s attraction towards you. Negative statements are proven to be very helpful when attaining back customers who have left the business or even getting the new customers. Sometimes marketers not only use negative words about their product, they also use it against the customers which all of sudden gets their attention. Government also forces marketers to advertise negative labels with their product. These are rules set by government for health and safety reasons. Then there is also possibility that the statement used by insurance companies might not be negative but is percept as a negative statement by the people. Then I have taken two examples to make this thing understand in more detail. First example is of proprietary business. It is a café whose main product is coffee. Its coffee is disliked by many people. In order to change its view the marketing at coffee shop need to be changed. For this purpose to fulfill they have used negative statement about their product. Their negative statement is we know our coffee is bad but with new bushurn beans the coffee you are going to drink is the best cup you ever had. My second example is about a big corporate level business. It is an insurance service provider. AdrianFlux is one of the largest insurance companies in London. It has used a negative statement in its TV advert that it will show insurance also from other car insurance companies even if they are cheaper. This is a very good advertisement to draw attention of other customers but at the same time it is very vulnerable as it can cause other customer to steer away to the cheaper insurance companies. Then I have made use of Poter’s five forces to check how they react under such circumstances. Both the examples used are quite different to each other covering a good area for understanding business environment fully. For example, café example is a proprietary example selling a product. On the other hand, insurance company is a corporate level company with its product is the service provided by them. Both of the examples have been applied in detail side by side. Like in Poter’s Five Forces influence of one example is checked that how it is percept by the people or how good it was and at the same time comparing with the other example.


My chosen topic is about organizations using words against their product. The most important part of marketing is to get as many customers as you can. Different marketers use different ways to achieve this. Marketers should be using powerful adverts to drag customers’ attention towards the product. From past and now marketers use negative words about their own product to convince people to change their attitude towards the product. One of the most important tools used by marketers to attract customers is reverse psychology. Reverse Psychology is where you want someone to do so something exactly opposite to what they are told to do. Best example of reverse psychology is found in parent-child relation where when parents want children to do something they tell children not to do it. Same is the case with psychology of a customer, when they are told not to do something they tend to do it. This is mostly because of the unrest less and exploratory nature of human beings which forces them to do something against what they are told to do. Many of the marketers use this technique of reverse psychology when selling their product. They tell their clients in a challenging manner that they are not able to buy it or even touch it which is in fact a challenging situation for client or customer and to get them out of this situation they try it. I got this example from http://www. epsychology. us/reverse-psychology/

“ A real life example of reverse psychology was used in promoting Bohemian Rhapsody. The song is 5 minutes and 55 seconds long, and many record companies felt that would be too long to gain public interest. Freddie Mercury gave a copy to Kenny Everett, a London DJ and good friend, with specific direction not to play the song, knowing that Everett would do just the opposite.”

Marketers also use negative statements about their product to steer the people from actual purpose of the product. People have wrong perception about the product or service. People going to hotels often forget their luggage in the lobby and later on discover that their luggage is no longer with them. Then they start blaming on the hotel management that they have stolen the luggage or they cannot take care of thieves. On my visit to Dubai, I stayed in a hotel named CITY HOTEL. When I went near the reception the first thing that caught my attention was a board on wall saying WE ARE THEIVES. I was bit shocked to look at that board. With the closer examination of the board I found the text printed below it that we are not responsible for your luggage lost as we provide service all hotel related tasks and lost luggage should be reported to desk and we will only help you. This board clearly tells people with bad attitude that they should not think that hotel staff is a police and customers should take care of their luggage themselves.

Many of the marketers use negative words for their product to catch the eye of the customer. Unusual words often make customers or reader to pause and listen or read the whole thing that why someone is using himself the bad words about own product. Good example is of Asus Notebooks. I was going through their advertisement that says watching screen with too close proximity is harmful to your eyes. I was stunned for a moment that they make laptops and they are saying opposite things about their product but then I wanted to read their full advert. Then, it says that due to light dim control system you can decrease the background light that can save extra damage to your eyes, which is energy efficient, screen is pre-coated with extra layer to protect your eyes and it helps the green environment. By the time I was ending the advert I forgot about the first line that caught my attention. It is a very good technique to use unusual negative words about your own product that causes the customers to get attracted towards you. One more important thing is that the proceeding part of the advert should be driving away the customer from the negative point so that customer forget about the negative part or customer should be at least dragged to a point where negative part of advert is adjustable against the pros of the advert. If marketer is not able to do so this might result in failure of pursuing the customer or convincing him / her to buy or try the product or service.

It is the nature of business that loses or gains customers. Sometimes, these are returning customers Marketer can make use of negative statement or reverse psychology to attract back the customers they have lost or convince new customer towards the dying business. A very realistic and good example is about 1970s. At that time there was craze of jogging amongst the youth. People thought that jogging can keep them physically fit and there is no need to go to gym for aerobic or having muscular body. It was a very bad time of gyms that people were abandoning them. Then the big gyms like Reebok and other big gyms start showing advertisements of people with tuned up muscles doing jogging that caused the youth to be embarrassed about their skinny bodies going out and jogging with it. So, at that time the gym were able to regain the customers that they have lost.

There is also strategy used by marketers to use negative word about the customers to make their product or service being at least reviewed. I was looking through a software for my windows mobile Omnia that can do my monthly financial budgeting. I don’t remember the name of the software but to sell it the marketer used the words that you were responsible for the World economic downfall in 2008. I started reading this material and with that I found that the software vendor says that by noting down and controlling the budget which is possible through this software you could help the World make a comeback from economic crisis. Though these wording was not that much impressive to make me buy the software but it made me look at the features of the software which I have never gone through because of the price of the software. When I went through the features of the software which were also very great led me to the purchase of the software.

Sometimes it is the government policy for certain types of product to use negative remarks about the product. This is a very common case with cigarettes where it is essential for each cigarette container should write down that smoking is bad for health and now for UK they even more tough that cigarette companies should display horrible pictures of people organs suffered because of excessive use of cigarette. This use of advertisement on cigarette packs is in some cases better for cigarette companies. This has something to do with reverse psychology where people do things against what they are told to do.

Marketers also use negative statement to satisfy a customer. When a customer is very angry or annoyed by the service or product he has used, they are not in mood of listening to anything. At the, time it is best to use a negative remark about the product. This thing at least satisfies them that the company is realizing its mistake. And its best interest of the company that soon after apologizing they need to offer something complementary to the customer. Mainly in this context negative statement is used to reach a point where you can make the customer agreeable. Like I was going through the forums on internet and my eyes went on a post about delivery drivers not coming to door steps instead calling customers to come to downstairs or some other end of the road to collect the food that is or delivery. There a guy wrote in his forum that they sometime blame their own store for not letting them go inside to customer door. Customer also says few bad words about the company but the delivery driver is able to convince the customer to come outside to collect his or he food simply by the use of negative statement about his / her own product or service.

When marketing a product there are several things that need to be put under consideration while marketing a product. The targeted market is of big importance as well. The targeted market or the groups have difference in their values and norms. We will discuss our two examples in detail with reference to use of negative statements used by the marketers. We will do so with the help of SWOT and Poter’s Five Forces. We will also be using Maslow hierarchy of needs to categories our target audience. I have taken both examples of proprietary business and a big business to do my research applicable in all parts of businesses. First example with guidance on what negative statements it can use to promote the business but the second example is realistic with criticism of their already chosen negative statement.

The two examples taken are:

1. There is a small café in London. I would not prefer the exact name of the café. This café is currently running under an administration which made very bad coffee. Coffee is the biggest source of revenue for that shop and the café is gradually losing its customers. The current owner of café wants to change its management. Here we will study how applying SWOT and using negative statement they are able to revive their business. The negative statement used by them is that we know our coffee is bad but with new bushurn beans the coffee you are going to drink is the best cup you ever had.

2. Second example is about an insurance service provider, AdrianFlux that have used a statement in their advert about their service that they provide car cover insurance and display prices compared to other car insurances. At the same time if the insurance from their car competitor is cheaper they will tell you about that as well. AdrianFlux is one of the largest car insurance providers in London.

We will discuss both examples side by side. First we would see customer behavior in aspects of these SWOT and Poter’s Five Forces.

According to Poter’s Five Forces, what will be the impact of above two examples on first point that is threat from new entrants? For the first example of café if a new café opens still the negative statement used by them will actually stop customers from trying the new coffee from the new café. Second step is if their coffee is good enough they will be able to retain their customer. It is about understanding customer behavior. When we tell customers about the massive change, the customer behave quite differently to it. They want to give it a try that what these special words mean. While in the second example of insurance company, they are open to the threat of new entrants. Though their negative statement about their service is very attractive to drag a lot of people towards them but it may steer their customers very swiftly, once they are given cheaper rates.

For Power of suppliers, only the effected one is the supplier with previous coffee beans will be affected as suppliers for other items like snacks will remain as same and even ties can be increased if new coffee has its affect on the people. In case of insurance service provider AdrianFlux, suppliers are its share holders. I the negative statement given by the AdrianFlux is able to attract people and it provide its website on comparison with such companies which always give higher insurance than AdrianFlux it will get a lot of customers hence its suppliers will also increase. On the other hand if other insurance provider with whom AdrianFlux is comparing prices gives lower insurance that will have bad effect on the company and thus, its shareholders will start decreasing.

Power of buyer for the first case is the coffee shop is able to drag the customers. If its coffee is tasteful enough to make people addicted, on the later stage it can increase its prices and balance of buyer power will be shifted towards the coffee shop. But in the second case where scenario is completely different, AdrianFlux is showing prices of its competitors which could be lower the prices shown by AdrianFlux. This will cause complete power in the hands of buyers.

Rivalry is the first case when a company changes its policies or makes any difference in its strategies, where it comes in the way and chooses all the possible ways in cracking the promotional deals or offers that a company provides to promote its product or service. In case of café, the rivalry is not too strong to deter the effect of new coffee style to the customer. It is effective until unless its rival introduces a very good deal such as giving its customer free coffee or something else free with the coffee. But in case of insurance company, AdrianFlux is making comparison with other insurance companies. If its rivals decrease the prices than AdrianFlux they can easily beat AdrianFlux out of the market. So, the negative statement used by AdrianFlux is vulnerable to itself.

Substitutes of a product is one of the biggest trick used by rivals is substitute of a product or service. In case of café where main source of revenue is coffee, competitor might introduce special tea like flavored tea or some other specially designed hot drinks. This might have adverse effect on the statement use by café that with special type of beans they can serve special coffee. Secondly, in the case of insurance service provider, other insurance companies might add other features to its cover policy lay free windscreen cover, courtesy car if you had an accident or some other sort of extra premiums with the insurance making it a new type of insurance cover. They can also use third party insurance which is cheaper in price than comprehensive cover used by AdrianFlux causing people to opt for third party insurance.

According Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the customer residing at each level has different prospective about the product. So, the negative statement used by marketers should be designed in such a way that the statements should influence fully the targeted group of people. The people that reside at lower level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that is physiological and safety needs will be driven by drive theory and people residing at above three levels i. e. belongingness, ego needs and self-actualization will be driven by expectancy theory. So, it is very important to think about the group of people being targeted while giving such statements.

Cigarette is perceived by both groups of people differently. For people at lower level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need where they are driven by drive theory, they are seeking for food and shelter or the safety needs. According to them using cigarette makes them forget their worries for the time being. Using label as “ Smoking is not good for you Health” does not matter a lot. On the other hand, there are people lying at upper level of needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy. Those people have their basic needs fulfilled and for them using words that Smoking is not good for health or showing them bad picture of organs affected by cigarette makes them think twice about the negative words used by them.

Sometimes the statements used by marketers are actually not negative but their meaning perceived is negative. For example, Pizza Hut opens its branch in an area where Muslim majority resides. Muslims have their own way of eating. They have concepts of Halal and Haram about the food. Pizza Hut enters into the Muslim community and starts introducing its menu with pork related food products or any products in its menu. It will be a good approach from Pizza Hut perspective to open its branch in an area where there is no Pizza Hut nearby but opening its branch with Haram contents in it will not only restrict its branch sale in that area but promoting pork items in those area will result people take in it as negative statement. Though intentions of Pizza Hut was not to use negative statement but people perceived it to be negative regarding to their cultural values and religion. I would like to quote example from my daily experience. I work with Sky TV near Green Street in East London. There is a branch of KFC, a famous chicken shop with lots of branches globally. There were no Halal contents in their food. They used a negative statement, our food is not for you, but now you can enjoy it as it wants to be eaten by you, Introducing KFC Halal Food. Before there were hardly, few people in the shop. If you went there you will never feel that this is the same KFC that is making such big profits and it looks like it is time to shut down that branch of KFC. But now if you go in there you won’t find a room to even stand in there. So, it is also effective to take into consideration the targeted area you are promoting your product or service.


According to the search conducted, I think best way is to use negative statement as it is more persuading to make them try the product you want them to try. Also use of reverse psychology is very helpful in this matter. But the main important thing is that full work should be done before giving negative statements that it does not cause any harm to the company like in the case of insurance company where the negative statement was very vulnerable to the company. Also second most important thing is the right choice of the targeted group and the right time to do that negative statement. Everything depends on how the targeted customers percept about the advert or statement given by the marketers. After noting down the success of negative statement issued by marketers it came into notices that there are side effects as well. As described that it also chances that marketer wants to tell something else and the customer’s percept it totally differently. It also matters a lot the way the statement is being published or given. For example, if in coffee shop advert, the marketer used the words we know our coffee is bad in big words and remaining part that but with new type of beans it is much changed. The customer might read the bigger words and passes on. So, it is also matter of fact that how you present what you are saying. It also possible that customer has created a vision in his mind about a product o service. Then that sort of customer is unachievable, how much strong negative statement you use still the customer will be unsatisfied.

Thanks for your opinion!
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