The average American is inundated with between 3000 and 5000 advertising messages per day in various forms. Advertising is everywhere in the modern environment – on radio, television and computers, in magazines and newspapers, on billboards, on buildings, on public transportation, on the clothing, shoes and accessories of sports and entertainment figures and strategically placed in films, television shows and websites.
Consumer behavior is one of the most pervasive of human behaviors. Virtually every individual is a consumer at some level and aspects of consumer behavior occur daily in the lives of most people. Since human beings spend much of their lives consuming products and services – from houses, food and clothing to transportation, health and recreational services – it follows that consumer behavior represents an integral part of human behavior and cannot be separated or considered distinct from general human functioning.
Far from being a passive mirror of society or reflection of already established consumer needs, advertising exerts influence that is cumulative, often subtle and at least partially unconscious.
For these reasons alone, the mechanisms whereby advertising affects individuals merits our study and attention.