NIRM – Consumer behaviour 1 doc (1) – Does sex sell? There’s certainly enough of it around, whether in print ads, television commercials -It’s not that I’m offended

Does sex sell? There’s certainly

Consumer behaviour 1 doc (1)



NO. 1

The slogan for the movie Godzilla was “Size does matter.”  Should this be the slogan for America as well?  Many marketers seem to believe so.  The average serving size for a fountain drink has gone from 12 ounces to 20 ounces.  An industry consultant explains that the 32 – ounce Big Gulp is so popular because “people like something large in their hands.  The large the better.”  Hardee’s Monster Burger, complete with two beef patties and five pieces of bacon, weighs in at 63 grams of fat and more than 900 calories.  Clothes have ballooned as well: Kick wear makes women’s jeans with 40 – inch diameter legs.  The standard for TV sets used to be 19 inches; now it’s 32 inches.  Hulking SUVs have replaced tiny sports cars as the status vehicle of the new millennium.  One consumer psychologist theorizes that consuming big things is reassuring: “Large things compensate for our vulnerability,” she says.  “It gives us insulation.  The feeling that we’re less likely to die.”  What’s up with our fascination with bigness?  Is this a uniquely American preference?  Do you believe that “bigger’s better?”  Is this a sound marketing strategy?


Some die-hard fans were not pleased when the Rolling Stones sold the tune “Start Me Up” for about $4 million to Microsoft, which wanted the classic song to promote its windows 95 launch.  The Beach Boys sold “Good Vibrations” to Cadbury Schweppes for its Sunkist soft drink, Steppenwolf offered its “Born to be Wild” to plug the Mercury Cougar, and even Bob Dylan sold “The Times They Are A- Changin” to Coopers & Lybrand (now called price Waterhouse Coopers).  Other rock legends have refused to play the commercial game, including Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, R.E.M. and U2.  According to U2’s manager, “Rock’ n roll is the last vestige of independence.  It is undignified to put that creative effort and hard work to the disposal of a soft drink or beer or car.”  Singer Neil Young is especially adamant about not selling out; in his song “This Note’s for you,” he croons, “Ain’t singing for Pepsi, ain’t singing for Coke, I don’t sing for nobody, makes me look like a joke”.  What’s your take on this issue?  How do you react when one of your favorite songs turns up in a commercial?  Is this use of nostalgia an effective way to market a product?  Why or why not?

NO. 3

Some market analysts see a shift in values among young people.  They claim that this generation has not had a lot of stability in their lives. They are fed up with superficial relationships, and are yearning for a return to tradition.  This change is reflected in attitudes toward marriage and family.  One survey of 22 –24 year old women found that 82 percent thought motherhood was the most important job in the world.  Brides’ magazine reports a swing toward traditional weddings – 80 percent of brides today are tossing their garters.  Daddy walks 78 percent of them down the aisle.  So, what’s your take on this?  Are young people indeed returning to the value of their parents (or even their grandparents)?  How have these changes influenced your perspective on marriage and family?

NO. 4

Does sex sell?  There’s certainly enough of it around, whether in print ads, television commercials, or on Web sites.  When Victoria’s Secret broadcast a provocative fashion show of skimpy lingerie live on the Web (after advertising the show on the Super Bowl) 1.5 million visitors checked out the site before it crashed due to an excessive number of hits.  Of course, the retailer was taking a risk since by its own estimate 90 percent of its sales are from women.  Some of them did not like this display of skin.  One customer said she did not feel comfortable watching the Super Bowl ad with her boyfriend: “It’s not that I’m offended by it; it just makes me feel inferior”.

Perhaps the appropriate question is not does sex sell, but should sex sell?  What are your feelings about the blatant use of sex to sell products? Do you think this tactic works better when selling to men than to women?  Does exposure to unbelievably attractive men and women models only make the rest of us “normal” folks unhappy and insecure? Under what conditions (if any) should sex be used as a marketing strategy?

 NO. 5

New interactive tools are being introduced that allow surfers on sites such as to view apparel product selections on virtual models in full, 360 – degree rotational view.   In some cases the viewer can modify the bodies, face, skin coloring, and the hairstyles of these models.  In others, the consumer can project his or her own likeness into the space by scanning a photo into a “makeover” program. plans to offer – 3-D pictures that can be rotated for close looks, even down to the stitching on a sweater, as well as online mannequins that will incorporate photos of shoppers and mimic voice patterns.  Visit or another site that offers a personalized mannequin.  Surf around.  Try on some clothes.  How was your experience – how helpful was this mannequin?  When you shop for clothes online, would you rather see how they look on a body with dimensions the same as yours, or on a different body?  What advice can give Web site designers who are trying to personalize theses shopping environments by creating life – like models to guide you through the site?

NO. 6

Religious symbolism increasingly is being used in advertising, even though some people object to this practice.  For example, a French Volkswagen ad for the relaunch of the Golf showed a modern version of the Last Supper with the tagline, “Let’s us rejoice, my friends, for a new Golf has been born.”  A group of clergy in France sued the company and the ad had to be removed from 10,000 billboards.  One of the bishops involved in the suit said, “Advertising experts have told us that ads aim for the sacred in order to shock, because using sex does work anymore.”  Do you agree? Should religion be used to market products?  Do you find this strategy effective or offensive?  When and where is this appropriate, if at all?

NO. 7

Boots with six – inch heels are the latest fashion rage among young Japanese women.  Several teens have died after tripping over their shoes and fracturing their skulls.  However, followers of the style claim they  are willing to risk twisted ankles, broken bones, bruised faces, and other dangers associated with the platform shoes.  One teenager said, “ I’ve fallen and twisted my ankle many times, but they are so cute that I won’t give them up until they go out of fashion.”   Many consumers around the world seem to be willing to suffer for the sake of fashion.  Others argue that we are merely pawns in the hands of designers, who conspire to force unwieldy fashions down our throats.  What do you think ?  What is and what should be the role of fashion in our society ?  How important is it for people to be in style ?  What are the pros and cons of keeping up with the latest fashions ?  Do you believe that we are at the mercy of designers.



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