Controlling the mind the way big brands like Apple, Zara do: Marketing 101

The big brands have been controlling our mind since forever and this is not something we don’t know and yet we fall for it.

Their marketing tactics are so on point that we, sometimes even knowingly fall prey to these. Marketing your brand is not wrong as long as you are doing it ethically.

Today we will see how they have been controlling our minds. You can use them in two ways:

  • By being aware of these tactics, you would be able to not fall for these and save some money to invest in better ways.
  • If you have a business, you would be able to use some of these ethically to grow your brand and business.

The marketing tactics used for controlling the mind

1. If it’s social, it’s important

This is something which always has been there but with the immense growth of social media, it almost forces us to follow the trends to fit in.

Being able to fit in is something that has been engraved in our minds since evolution. Most human beings are wired this way that something is good if other people approve of it. Or something is good only if everyone else is doing/buying.

We have innate desire to be validated by those around us and be part of the crowd and not be referred as different or weird.

One such example is fast fashion which particularly Zara does a lot.

The brand when realized that people don’t really care about the quality as long as it’s trendy. They started making trendy clothes and changing the collection every few months so that you keep buying from them just to follow the trends.

With the growth of social media, when you see every influencer wearing the same clothes, it becomes a huge trend and you end up buying it because it validates that you are also trendy and fashionable. And I, myself have fallen prey to this, multiple times.

But we are not just going to blame it on Zara. Colgate also does this.

When you see the ad, 8 out of 10 dentists recommend this toothpaste. What comes to your brain? That it must be good. It’s actually a very powerful tactic and has made Colgate a huge brand internationally.

We buy something only if it has good reviews. This is an amazing tactic but only if you are not faking it. Apparently 2/3 of the reviews on Amazon are fake.

So if everyone has it, I gotta buy it. No actually do not unless there is a need.

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2. Earned media

Controlling the mind

Now imagine you see a beauty brand being published in New York Times or Cosmopolitan. What would you think?

That if New York Times is talking about it, it must be good. And that’s what they want you to think. But more often than not, they are actually paid aka sponsored posts.

Although they should tell you that it’s a sponsored post but mostly it’s not mentioned and even if it is, it’s so small that nobody ever pays attention to it.

You are obviously more inclined to buy something when a third party promotes or appreciates the product. This is human nature and it’s not wrong as long as the product lives up to the words.

People will buy your product more often when mentioned by businesses other than yours.

3. The Decoy effect

This is such a simple trick and yet so powerful.

I’ll give you an example. So this a mobile company X and has recently launched a new phone and has the following offers:

A. Phone- $200

B. Earphones- $50

C. Phone+ earphones- $225

What would you choose? It’s seen statistically more people choose the third option even if they don’t need the earphones.

So here the middle option (oftentimes is the case) is the decoy. The company knows you are never going to buy just earphones when you have actually wanted to buy a phone. So they purposely increase the price of the earphones a little and decrease when paired with the phone and end up making a sale for both the products. I mean this is a simple yet so effective way of controlling the mind of humans.

We fall for this so many times, it’s almost embarrassing.

Avoid the decoys. Know what you need.

Read: 5 new social media apps for marketers to look out for in 2022

4. The central pricing

A very commonly used tactic, again. Here the brand introduces three versions of the same product but the catch is the product that they want most of us to buy is the middle product and that’s exactly what happens.

They create distractions by having a low price point and a high price point and we think of it as a measure of quality.

The lowest price seems to us as of the lowest quality and the highest as of unnecessary expenditure. So we usually go for the middle one.

Apple does this every year when they launch a new iPhone. With iPhone 12 they did the same thing, different pricings for similar versions of the product.

  • iPhone 12 pro- $1399
  • iPhone 12- $979
  • iPhone SE- $500

And guess who was the winner! Obviously most sales came from iPhone 12 just what the company wanted. But now that you are aware if this, don’t let them be controlling your mind.

Be aware of your needs if you want to save some bucks.

5. Hiking the price and then lowering them

This is a classic sales technique. They first raise the price of the product and then lower them making the customer feel they lowered it just for them. And that they are giving a high quality product at a cheaper rate for customer’s happiness. Though, in reality the original price would be much lower than the discounted price. But the customer doesn’t know that. Customer is impressed by the humble and cooperative nature of the company.

6. Using trigger words

Controlling the mind

They make use of certain trigger words in their advertisements. Some of which are ‘discount’, ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ etc. They are called trigger words because they tend to trigger the reaction of the person towards the product. Now the person or soon to be customer, who wasn’t even interested in buying the product, suddenly seem to develop an interest. The person feels they might not get such a good discount/deal in future and ends up buying it even though they don’t need it.

Also Read: Incredible business strategy game played by ‘Rich people’ you probably want to know

7. Always show the expensive product first

You might have noticed, sales people always show the expensive product first. This way when they show the less expensive one, that product’s price seem to look like of normal range. But in reality, the cheaper product would be of much cheaper price. The product priced at a lower range starts looking like a nice bargain in front of the expensive product.

8. Reciprocity and perpetual contrast

As complicated as the words might sound, they have a simpler meaning. It’s like barter system used in the ancient times. Whenever someone does you a favor, you in a way, become obliged to that person. Now you feel you owe him/her something.

The company might use it like offering you a beverage or some sort of snack. This puts you in a position to reciprocate the gesture and if not a big sale, they mostly end up making a sale. They put you in their debt so that now you have to buy something from them to get out of it.


If you have a business, you can definitely learn some of the marketing techniques or the way these brands are controlling the human mind. But please be ethical, don’t promise something you can’t deliver.

And if you don’t have a business, then congratulations on becoming a well aware consumer. You have no idea how much money you are going to save!