Selective Exposure in Marketing: Emerging Concept

Selective exposure in marketing tells your customers to block or alter notices actively that clash with their values and attitudes because consumers are inundated with so many messages daily. They routinely filter through the “noise.”

People both consciously and unconsciously tend to seek out material that supports their existing attitudes and opinions and avoid material that actively challenges their views. More broadly, audiences may seek unity with their predispositions, including any aspect of their identity. 

Some psychologists have argued that individuals selectively screen out information to avoid cognitive dissonance. The concept derives from US mass-media research in the early 1960s, where it supported theories of limited effects and the rejection of the hypodermic model. In interpersonal communication, it is reflected in selective listening. See also receiver selectivity; compare selective distortion.

All of the marketing is a war of perception, not products. More particularly, marketing is about setting your product or service in a favorable light in the senses of the customers you want to reach.

The Basic Idea

In the age of social media, it’s effortless to build a personalized stream of content relying on which accounts or hashtags your mind. You can even intercept specific words from showing up on your feed on Twitter. This can be useful for people who are sensitive to particular topics and protect them from further damage. But it can also be dangerous: some users might manage this feature by suppressing anything that doesn’t align with their beliefs. For example, someone who helps consume meat and animal products might go to the extreme of caching words like “vegan” or “vegetarian.” There isn’t any advantage in hiding from these words, and it stops them from coming across thoughts that vary from their own.

Here are three fundamental regulations of selective exposure, using the carnivorous friend as an example:

  • Avoidance of incongruent knowledge: When the carnivore avoids information inconsistent with their ideas
  • Selective perception: when the animal either does not sense the information they conflict with or tries to reinterpret it to suit their beliefs.
  • Selective retention: when the carnivore bypasses any information that positively describes veganism but retains information that leads to a pessimistic view
  • People typically see what they examine for and hear what they hear for.

Understanding Selective Exposure in Marketing

  • Cognitive Dissonance: Occasionally, beliefs and attitudes clash with each other. When they do, that becomes painful; and as humans, we manage to avoid what’s sad. This act of evading a mental conflict is what’s directed to as “cognitive dissonance.”
  • Observer Expectancy Effect: This effect happens when people act differently when being monitored than they would otherwise. This outcome is especially salient in research contexts, where it can carry severe implications for a study’s facts and replicability.
  • Declinism: The biological inclination to believe the past is better than the future. Someone experiencing declinism believes that life is getting worse over time.

Selective Exposure in Marketing

Assume two people who notice a single event and ask them about what happened. They’ll probably give different tales, but in such an activity, you’ll get a critical understanding of what selective exposure marketing is all about. From their narratives, you’ll get a clear idea of the speaker’s most important values, beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, roles, and statuses. Selective exposure marketing is about positioning your company’s product or service in your consumer’s mind by tapping into those sites.

To do that, your marketing announcements have to endure the challenging task of getting past a consumer’s internal filter that shuts out advertising overload and outright rejects knowledge that’s not relevant to their lives. For example, 70-year-old men presumably won’t even peek at ads for breast pumps for nursing moms. A wealthy business individual in the suburbs probably will flip right past an advertisement for the grand opening of a downturn deal mart. However, a soccer mom may be interested in a new “healthy food” thing. It’s about relevancy and making your products matter in the senses of the people you want as customers.

Simplified Messages

It’s challenging to alter a consumer’s mind once an impression has been formed. In this “over-communicated” world, selective exposure markets grow to craft clear messages constant with what the consumer already thinks needs or wants or desires to be. Think of the California Milk Processor Board’s “Got Milk?” and Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign tagline. Nike had erroneously created advertising around competitors’ marketplace, like Reebox and Converse. However, the company struck gold when it began advertising that recreated the deep desire of men and women to get fit and anyone who accepted in determination and devotion. Confronted with declining milk consumption at all age levels, the processor board used the attraction of celebs and the health consciousness of parents to drive up deals.

First and Unique

The most effortless way to place your product or service in a customer’s mind is to be the first or only. As such, only one business can have this benefit. For example, an alternative energy business in Canada in 2011 is claiming to be the only company that can retrofit a geothermal heating and cooling solution under existing office buildings with only seven feet of clearance. However, if the picture is good, it certainly won’t be the only one for long. Newcomers to the industry will have to discover excellent selling points in their selective susceptibility marketing drives. After the first post has been established, your company must find any “unoccupied” area to drive home in consumers’ minds. For example, Miller Lite wasn’t the first light beer, but it was the first one to be positioned as such with its name. In addition, Volkswagen carved a positive exposure in customers’ minds with “Think Small” when SUV sales were overwhelming.

The Takeaway

Marketing statements designed to position your product or services in the marketplace of other products have fatal flaws concerning how your business ranks next to your competitor’s miss an opportunity. It makes a solid connection with your customer. You also risk customers being overwhelmed and not knowing who is telling the truth about claims of “best,” “superior quality,” and “outranked competition.” Marketing is founded on learning and understanding who is buying your products and what drives, needs, and wants compel them to buy. Selective exposure in marketing is your opportunity to make a heart-and-mind connection with your customer.