Things We Buy Because Advertisers Told Us To

Have you ever bought something because some told you to? Well, that’s what advertisers do and many times we don’t recognize it until it’s too late or not at all. They accomplish this by creating problems from nonproblems and then miraculously providing the answer. Companies have made millions marketing goods and services in that way, and they continue to do so despite not needing them at all. Let’s take a look at the list of things we have been persuaded to purchase. 

1. Antiperspirant

One hundred years ago, it was completely normal to perspire and smell but in the late 1880s to early 1900s, one woman convinced the masses that it was a problem. Odorono, the first successful antiperspirant was created by Eda Murphey, the daughter of a medical doctor who used a concoction to stop his hands from sweating while in surgery. After discovering that it stopped her armpits from sweating, she gave it a name, packaged it, and tried to sell it. Initially, the antiperspirant failed to sell but soon the summer heat would have people flocking to the product. With the money she earned, she created an ad where she convinced people that sweating was embarrassing. It worked and we’re still buying it today.

2. Bottled Water

Over the last 50 years or so, soda and soft drink sales have declined significantly as people opt for healthier alternatives like water. The problem was that manufacturers knew that it would be difficult to compete with tap water (which was free) so they changed tactics and competed with soda instead. By using statements like “refreshing” and “cool”, the bottled water craze swept the nation after it was brought over by Gustave Leven, who already had a foothold selling it to restaurants and hotels.  

3. Toilet Paper

Humans have been going to the bathroom since there was one to go to and while toilet paper has become a staple in most households, it wasn’t always that way. Early ancestors used everything from straws and stones to sticks and corn cobs or anything that was on hand at the time. Eventually the Chinese invented toilet paper and when they did, it allowed people like Joseph Gayetty to create his own version. For 10 years, he marketed and failed to sell his invention. It wasn’t until 1867 when a group of brothers marketed them that they became a commercial success. 

4. Popcorn

Before the 1800s, popcorn wasn’t typically associated with the movies, in fact, they were sold everywhere except the movies because owners didn’t want the salty treat to mess up their carpets. It wasn’t until poorer folk began visiting the movies in the 1920s and bringing their own inexpensive treat (popcorn) that it became popular. Not only did movie theatre owners catch on, but people with popcorn carts also began moving closer to the theatres and hiking up their prices. They even ran ads during the movie to encourage people to buy. 

5. Toothpaste

Toothpaste wasn’t always a part of brushing one’s teeth as a toothbrush did the job on its own. In fact, before the early 20th century, brushing one’s teeth wasn’t a common practice. It was so bad that poor dental hygiene became a national security risk for soldiers of the US Army during World War I. Toothpaste company Pepsodent hired Claude Hopkins to create a campaign that would help them sell more toothpaste, and it worked, but toothpaste was flavorless so many people didn’t enjoy using it. They flavored theirs with mint and they were so successful that competitors followed suit. 


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