marketing or the ambivalence of the “consumer king”

marketing or the ambivalence of the “consumer king”



The book. Marketing ? “Evil Incarnate”a ” jail (…) which numbs the intelligence as much as the sensitivities”an activity orchestrated by marketers, “unscrupulous mercenaries [qui] manipulate fears and desires, distort, standardize, deceive, lie”.

The first lines of Thibault Le Texier’s essay, The Visible Hand of the Markets (La Découverte), take up a number of criticisms regularly leveled against marketing. But the researcher associated with the European Center for Sociology and Political Science strives to undo received ideas and bring a nuance that seems necessary to him in the way marketing is viewed. It also shows how much the disdain and rejection to which it may be subjected, in intellectual circles for example, may have slowed down its progress.

“The visible hand of the markets.  A critical history of marketing”, by Thibault Le Texier.  The Discovery, 648 pages, 26 euros.

In this “critical history of marketing”, Thibault Le Texier explains how the consumer has gradually become the center of attention. While at its beginnings, in the 19the century, the discipline detailed in textbooks “the art of shopping”she goes, over the XXe century, focus on buyers, their consumption habits, their personality, their tastes. In the United States, the agricultural sector is a pioneer in this and will become a source of inspiration. “You have to please the eye”already affirmed, in 1891, a producer of celery.

The history of marketing is that of a perpetual dance led by buyers and sellers, where both try to get closer and make their respective expectations coincide. And in this choreography, the promoters of the products do not always have the upper hand. Mr. Le Texier assures us that the consumer is not the manipulated puppet that we sometimes imagine. [Il] is a king under influence (…)but a king all the same”he believes, emphasizing that marketing cannot do everything: “The more choices an individual has, the harder it is to pressure them. » Similarly, he recalls, the Internet allows buyers to have access to multiple sources of information on products, thereby reducing the influence of advertising.

“Consenting victims”

This does not prevent marketing professionals from multiplying in an attempt to seduce them (and, above all, to retain them). They segment markets (women, children, etc.), scrutinize customer behavior and adapt accordingly. The book provides an opportunity to detail many of these strategies. “Since the 1980s, airlines, hotels, car rental companies and banks, distinguishing their customers by color codes or generic names, offer personalized services to the most profitable, while many merchants assign their customers attractiveness scores »explains Mr. Le Texier.

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