We live in a world where everything you can think of, can be found on the Internet. It should come as no surprise this had led to a problem, also known as the rabbit hole problem. There is so much content available, that the consumer gets lost in it. That’s why companies had to come up with a solution which is known today as personalized marketing. By using cookies for example, companies can follow your browsing behaviour and use this to present you with personalized offerings and content. Personalized marketing is essential for companies to ensure that consumers will keep coming back.

The Filter Bubble

A consequence of personalization is something that’s called the ‘filter bubble’, introduced by Eli Pariser. The filter bubble is an invisible algorithm that selectively guesses what information someone would like to see based on the search history of the user. Common examples are Google’s search results and Facebook’s news feed. What happens is that users don’t get to see the information that disagrees with their viewpoint and thus isolating them in their ideological information bubbles. But what determines what you get to see? You can think of clicks, viewing friends, likes on Facebook, reading news stories and so on.

The Downside of Personalization

Personalization may be helpful for online shopping, but it could have negative implications for the discourse in society because it closes us off to new ideas, people with other backgrounds, and opinions but also other crucial information. We don’t challenge our beliefs anymore and become blind to other perspectives. It thus creates the impression that our narrow view of the world is all that there is. As Pariser said, “too much candy and not enough carrots”.

Hitting the Psychological Jackpot

However, the filter bubble can not only be explained by online algorithms, but also by a persistent psychological driver: the confirmation bias. This is the tendency to search, interpret and recall information in a way that confirms our pre-existing beliefs or assumptions, while giving less attention to alternative information. This effect is stronger for emotional issues and personal beliefs. It can be explained by wishful thinking and the limited human capacity to process information. The result is overconfidence in your own beliefs and poor decisions due to this bias. The filter bubble not only seems to be the problem, we ourselves contribute to it as well.

It is debated whether personalized filtering is actually happening and if it is, to what extent? But it is definitely something we shouldn’t put aside without giving it some thought. Be aware of the fact that what you see on Google might be something different than what someone else sees. If you are looking for a good movie to watch on Netflix, it is a good thing that they already know what you like, but there might be more to it. What do you think, is personalization beneficial or harmful?

The filter bubble is likely having an impact on important decisions in your personal life. Decisions such as the way in which you have informed yourself about the upcoming elections. A relevant question to ask yourself – is it possible that the filter bubble has affected your vote for the elections?

Written by Jasmijn van Veggel

Advertisements are everywhere. It’s not an exaggeration when I say that wherever we look, we see ads. Product placement is an awesome example of exactly that: even while giving into our Netflix addiction or while watching your favourite TV show on the actual TV (oldschool, I know), we are getting brainwashed by commerce. Now, product placement is not a new phenomenon, but the tactics are getting sneakier and sneakier every day. Let’s look at what product placement does with us, and some awesome examples.

What is product placement, and why does it work?

I learned something in class once that stuck with me: imagine being in a café and having a conversation with someone, and totally focussing on what they are saying. Suddenly we hear our name being mentioned in a conversation that is not yours- it’s across the room. Immediately our focus is shifted and we are listening to that other conversation. How is it that we could focus on one conversation, yet still pick up signs from another? Well, that’s because our brain picks up pretty much everything that goes on around us. So even though you think you are only receiving information from one conversation, your brain is programmed to listen to everything that goes on around you. When something striking happens near you, it just switches its attention to something else.

You’re probably asking yourself what in god’s name I am dragging on and on about. Well, it’s actually quite interesting that our brain processes everything that goes on around us. That means that the things we don’t consciously see, we actually do see – we just process them differently. And – like with every other tiny chance they get – marketers are playing with this feature of our head. It’s called product placement: the subtle placement of a product in something we like watching. So yes, that means that if you went to see Deadpool, you saw a little IKEA advertising (that one was not very subtle, but genius nonetheless), or when you watched modern family, you were being persuaded to try Oreo cookies. The brainwashing never stops!

deadpool                      IKEA’s product placement in Deadpool: a blind lady trying to understand the instructions. Photo credit: moviepilot.com

It’s is absolutely genius though, when it’s done in the right (subtle!) way. Here are some awesome examples:

The good

Now, there are tons of examples of good product placements. To give you just a few:

  • Ford in New Girl
  • Coca-Cola in American Idol
  • Ray-Ban in Risky Business
  • Apple in Modern Family
  • Blackberry in House of Cards
oreo modern family                        Oreo in Modern Family. Photo credit: brandsandfilms.com 

It is, however, more fun to look at the outstanding examples in more detail. So keep reading!

The better

The name is Bond – James bond. And he loves himself a Heineken. Not only Heineken, but also Aston Martin have been really clever product placements in the James Bond series. The Aston Martin has practically become THE care associated with James Bond – at least it has in my eyes. That means that if we like James Bond, we automatically also tend to love Aston Martin cars.

aston                        Photo credits: brandsandfilms.com

Heineken took it a step further. Besides being mentioned in the movie, the brand actually designed a bunch of commercial in the James Bond theme – with Bond himself! That’s masterly.


The best

The absolute best product placement – in my opinion – was in back to the future. Nike and Pepsi both showed futuristic products that ruled the world until the actual future: 2015. Nike actually lived up to the challenge and launched their back to the future items, as did Pepsi! To me, that is what you call ultimate product placement. Genius!

pepsi nike

Photo credits: celebfresh.co.uk

A mindtwister

Lastly, a mindtwister for you guys. Now, this is one of my favourite commercials EVER, it’s just hilariously well thought-out. But is it product placement or not? It’s kind of a reversed situation: Volkwagen (a brand) is showing Star Wars references (a media production) in their ad. Hmm, confusing. What do you guys think? Let me know in a comment!

Author: Kim van der Vliet
Sources: brandsandfilms.com, businessinsider.com, blog.hubspot.com

Dear women,
When walking through your drug store of trust, did you ever notice that your pink bottle of aloe vera shaving gel costs way more than the blue men’s version without aloe vera two aisles further?

And dear men,
Did you ever notice that buying Gucci Guilty (75ml) as a Valentine’s gift for your girlfriend costs you 17€ more than buying the 90ml version of it for yourself?

If you didn’t, you should pay attention to it in the future, ‘cause it is not a coincidence:  Products, targeted at women, are on average 7% more expensive than those aimed at men. For beauty products the difference is even 13% more. But there are many more interesting examples from the US:


How can this be and why do women find it okay to pay extra?

One important reason is that women pay more attention to quality and aesthetics in general, than men do, which makes them more likely to pay for inessential extras (e.g. the fancily-colored pink bottle and the added aloe vera in the shaving gel example). Furthermore, the men’s version is often seen as the normal standard product and women pay for a divergent version of that standard product. Let’s look at a mobile phone case for example. Men are usually fine with a black simple one. Women however want it pink, in the form of a teddy bear, glittering, with leopard pattern or polka dots and this is not where the list ends…



But how does all this relate to marketing?

Apparently, women accept paying a premium for products that, in their opinion, seems to maintain a higher quality or have better aesthetics than comparable products. This is a finding, which marketers can subtly use by paying special attention to product design and quality messages when marketing to women. A well-designed product with a convincing message specifically targeted to their needs seems to make women pay more.


The countertrend

However, interestingly enough, unisex trends are emerging to counter this segregation in the marketing field. Spanish retail giant Zara has just launched its “Ungendered” collection, in which there is no difference between men’s and women’s, and prices are therefore consistent across genders.


The question is: Is that mainly a trend that we see in fashion? Or will markets follow suit and reduce the gap between men’s and women’s prices? And will it be more difficult for marketers to persuade women with a shinier version of whatever in the future?

Who knows, maybe the pink aloe vera shower gel will disappear from the shelves soon to make space for a black, cheaper women’s version (I wouldn’t mind paying less 😉 )


Guest article by Lara Galka from Little.Loved.Details

Image credits: Thinkstock, ZARA

Looks matter. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about human looks. For the sake of romance it’s probably best to keep believing that personality trumps looks. It does, however, go for product packaging. The truth is that I – the worst chef in the world – could make a completely uneatable dish, and it would still sell – with the right packaging of course. HA! That’s quite awesome! But how does it work?

Ok, so what you may or may not know is that the way we taste is not actually only defined by our tasting sense. Weird, right? Smell, sound, sight and touch also play a huge part in the way we experience taste. Don’t believe me? In 2011 Coca-Cola changed their typical red Coca-Cola cans to white ones with polar bears on them for charity. Now, of course, the drink inside the can stay the exact same, yet people actually started complaining that Coca-Cola had changed their secret recipe! So their taste experience of Coca-Cola actually changed because the cans did. Crazy!

There are a few basic elements underlying product packaging psychology (tongue twister – I know):



I’ve talked about colors in my supermarketing article as well: they are super important. The associations we have with different colors differ per gender, age and culture. In general though, we  can outline it as follows:

  • Blue and white: linked with freshness (we see these on toothpaste packages and cleaning supplies etc.)
  • Red and yellow: evoke joy, ease and pleasure, perfect for the package of a snack. Red is also associated with a sweet taste; we tend to experience food or drinks sweeter when the package is red
  • Green: signals health, we see this on organic and healthy food packages
  • Black: is often associated with death and evil, probably not your best choice for – let’s say – a breakfast package. It is, however, also associated with power. Thus, in product classes like technology, it is often used.
  • Brightness: the brighter the color, the more positive the product is viewed



Shapes of a product packing are also of influence on how we perceive the product inside.

  • Shapey designs feel manly and powerful (Hasseroeder beer bottles have been made angular, just to improve manly appeal).
  • Round shapes are more feminine, harmonious and soft.

And for the real crazy psychology: when we place something in a square package, the taste of it is perceive as intensified in relation to that same product in a round package. Say whaaaat!?



Images on a package can also influence perception of the product. Do you want your product to be perceived as luxurious? Just add some vertical stripes behind the product. The product inside will be eaten more of at one time if the package shows the product in large quantities.

Another fun fact about product package images: a lot of cornflakes packages have a picture of corn on them. Most cornflakes don’t even have corn in them though, but we associate it with being healthy.

Also, have you ever thought about the complete randomness of a puppy on a package of toilet paper!? I’m talking about Page here. They use the puppy to enhance the idea that their toilet paper is soft.


It’s everywhere

So, next time you consume (anything – really!), pause for a second and think about how your current experience is affected by the product’s look, rather than functional benefit to you. Have you seen any cool examples of product packages that caught your eye? Let me know in a comment!

Written by Kim van der Vliet

Sources: Amsterbrand, Verpakkingsprofs

Every marketeer has heard of the term brand extension. Extending into a new product line or – category could potentially be very beneficial for the product sales (Aaker, 1990). Some companies have gotten really good at it and make it look so very easy.Just slap your brand name on a new product line or category and make it work. For example, think about the different line-extensions of Coca Cola: Coca-Cola®, Vanilla Coke, Coke with Lime, Raspberry Coke, Cherry Coke, Orange Coke, Cherry Vanilla Coke and all the diet and zero versions.

And what about the successful product category extensions of Richard Brandson’s Virgin, which has successfully produced planes, music and wines. Not products that you would automatically associate with just one brand.

However it is not as easy as it seems. The brand extension should always fit the existing brand and the associations that the consumers have with it. Even Richard Brandson has made some mistakes with Virgin. Virgin Cola, for example, did not work out, nor did the Virgin Home water purifiyer.  Underneath you see the ad for Virgin Cola. Ask yourself during the commercial, what is wrong with this? Why doesn’t it work?

Here are some other cases in which brands got extended into a product- or linecategory that turned out to be disasters:

Somehow Cosmopolitan, the magazine about lifestyle and fashion, made the connection between their readers and the need for a Cosmopolitan branded dairy product. Although the packaging was ‘sophisticated’, the yoghurts were already off the shelfs in after a year. The productcategorie of yoghurt: a healthy, sour, sticky, white, liquid type of food, did not meet the associations that one would normally have with the glamorous Cosmopolitan.

Colgate, the well-know toothpaste brand, saw a great opportunity for a product that would be the direct cause for the use of their core output. Why should you clean your teeth? Because you just had a delicious Colgate meal, ofcours! Why didn’t this work? Well,  the Colgate logo on the meal immediately reminds you of the minty flavour of toothpaste, and we all now how food tastes after you have just brushed your teeth… The brand extension was not a great succes.

McDonalds tried to extend their offering with this famous Italian fast food. However, the customers did not like it at all. The main issue was the waiting time for the pizza was longer than the average waiting time for a hamburger, which was not in line with the fast service guarantee that McDonalds still offers today. When people go to Domino’s or Pizza Hut, they expect to wait for their pizza. At McDonalds, customers expect to be served fast. The McPizza was erased from the menu, and is only still available in 2 McDonalds locations in America.

Long story short. When extending your brand, listen to your consumers and do the research. What do they associate with your brand and which new products could fit these associations? Or maybe it is just a matter of persistence, to get these new associations in our heads. Could we have Nivea watches or Snicker computers in the future? If you have deep pockets and a long breath, I think you can make it work.

Written by: Marjolein Tromp

Sources and image credits:

Aaker, D. (1990). Brand extensions: The good, the bad, and the ugly. MIT Sloan Management Review, 31(4), 47-56

Cosmopolitan Yoghurt: Source,  Freaky Fresh Marketing: 

Colgate Food: Source, Huffington Post

McPizza: Source, Stange Kids Club

We all know it: we go to the supermarket fully planning on finally beginning a healthy life, but somehow you’ve found yourself on the couch again, with a bag of crisps and a life size stash worth of chocolates. How did this happen!? Where did we go wrong? Is our discipline really that embarrassingly low; or are there other factors at play? Well, the latter seems to be the case. You see: supermarkets are masters of psychological mind games, that keep making us want to buy shit (excuse my language) we don’t even need. Being poor students, it’s about time we knew how these sneaky bastards play with our minds. I shall call it Supermarketing, and here’s how it works:

We enter the store…

…and we usually see the fruit and vegetables section. Now, this has several reasons.

It makes us happy

First of all, the fruit and vegetables look so joyfully colourful and fresh, that it instantly makes us happy. We then see the rest of the store in a positive light. This, in turn, makes us more susceptible to other marketing tricks.

The marketplace-feeling

Looking more closely, notice that in most supermarkets fruits and vegetables are gathered in big bins. Now, this is some really farfetched stuff, but the vegetables and fruits in bins are supposed to give us a feeling of being at an outdoor market, which then gives us a (false) indication of low prices. Crazy, right? Even crazier is that this stuff actually works.

Trigger for unhealthy consumptions

But wait, there’s more! Once we have obediently put some fruits and vegetables into our cart (which is designed to show the bottom for as long as possible – so it seems emptier, and so we keep buying stuff), we start thinking about how super healthy we are being. Once we see that bag of crisps or other UNhealthy items, we buy it more easily because we’ll feel less guilty.

Moving on

Most supermarkets have approximately the same mapping: as mentioned above, you start at the fruits and vegetables area. Then there are some really tactic places for other products:

  1. All the ingredients for your diner can be found close to one another: it makes you more eager to combine a lot of products to make a lovely meal. The same goes for breakfast and lunch.
  2. Milk and cosmetics are necessities. They are placed at the very back of the store. This way we pass all other isles to get to the place we need to be. By that time, however, we’ve probably already grabbed some stuff we didn’t think we needed before we walked into the store.
  3. We reach the cashiers , and one last killer attempt is made to make us buy EVEN MORE. Here, we find small packets of gum or peppermints. The prices seem so small compared to what you’ve already bought, that you’ll think taking one won’t really matter that much.

Having finally reached the check-out though, we’ve been walking through a minefield of mindgames. Here’s some others you may encounter:

Placing products

Products a supermarket wants to sell, will be placed at the eyesight on the shelfs. Big action pack that have relatively low profit, will be placed on the lowest shelfs with the unpopular brands.

Popular products will be placed right at the middle of an aisle. So that, to reach it, we first need to cross the entire aisle with tons of other temptations.

People with kids have even more bad luck coming their way; products that kids tend to like are placed at kids eye-sight. Once the kids see the product and want it, it’s only a matter of time before mom or dad gives in and adds at least one extra product for their kid to their basket.

Colours, smells and sounds


Colours can play with our emotions. A lot of supermarkets will therefore sneak the colours red and yellow into their stores. For instance; red attracts our attention, and makes objects seem closer than they actually are (and lazy as we are, that makes it more easy for us to reach it!). Yellow makes you happy, optimistic and gives you confidence.


How wonderful is the smell of freshly baked bread? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but most of the time that ‘fresh’ smell is just an illusion. Most supermarkets add this smell artificially, to give you a hungry feeling while walking through the store which will eventually make you buy more food.


Supermarkets tend to play music that is very low-pace. Science has actually shown that this gives us a calm feeling and makes us stay in the store longer (also notice the absence of clocks in supermarkets, also meant to not rush you out of the store). This will in turn make us buy more products.

Even more crazy is this: science has also shown that when French music was played as background music in supermarkets, people tended to buy French wines. When German music was played, people tended to buy German wines. Awesome!

So there you have it: supermarketing. Next time you go to a supermarket, start to pay attention to these sneaky mindgames, and you’ll save loads and loads of money! It would be awesome if you guys knew any other psychological tricks supermarkets use! In case you do: don’t hesitate to leave a comment! Or, you know, if you want to use the comment section to cry out a little about all those years you’ve been fooled by supermarkets, that’s ok, too.

By: Kim van der Vliet
Sources: radar.avrotros.nl, bonappetit.com, theplate.nationalgeographic.com, tallsay.com, businessinsider.com