Is advertising why we buy?

Actual tweet saying advertising is fiction and blogs are experienceI saw this tweet and immediately thought, “blog topic.” Tucked it away and decided to think about it later. The author of the tweet brings up a great point.

What do you base your big-purchase decisions on?

Very little has to do with advertising, right?

Advertising might get me to think about a product, add it to my consideration list. But I don’t use it to make my decision. Do you?

I decided to take a look at items I buy and why. Here’s what I came up with. Are your buying reasons similar?

Big ticket items


I bought a Ford Escape. Why?

  • Had a great experience with a previous Ford.
  • It got a thumbs-up from my dad, who’s a mechanic and the most important opinion I trust when it comes to cars.
  • My bad back was most comfortable in the Escape and the Nissan Murano (I had a horrible experience with my last car, which was a Nissan).
  • The Escape was in my price range (and I loved the car overall).


  • I wanted something not too big and not too small.
  • The Vizio was in my price range and offered the size and features I wanted.
  • The picture looked crisp and clear.

Okay, I don’t have a lot of big-ticket items, so I started wondering if there’s a difference with lower-cost purchases.

Small ticket items


There are a ton of beer ads on TV, which is why I chose this one. In this decision, only one bullet (the first one) really counts for me, but I’ll list three that actually enter into my decision.

  • Taste
  • Price
  • Flavor I’m in the mood for

Now, if I see an ad for Samuel Adams Octoberfest beer in the fall, I might go buy it—but only because I like the beer. The ad just reminded me.

Laundry detergent:

  • Value for size and price
  • Hypoallergenic and unscented

There are many laundry detergent ads on TV too, but this is one product I buy based on my personal experience alone.

So where does advertising come in?

I have to say that it often does play a role in whether or not I consider a product. But when it comes down to it, I buy products I trust. And if I don’t know the product, reviews on Amazon and opinions of people I know are the most likely to help me make my decision.

Unlike the author of the tweet, I won’t call advertising fiction (though I won’t say she’s wrong either). But I do think advertising is more an awareness tool than a sales tool.

Advertising helps remind us of what our choices are, and each ad or each campaign leaves us with either a positive or negative impression that we carry into the buying experience.



  1. Christine Marie · May 24, 2011

    I agree with that tweet wholeheartedly. Advertising rarely has any influence on me. Almost all purchasing decisions are made by what I hear about others’ experiences and price. In this economy, I want the best deal I can get, but I don’t want to sacrifice the quality to get it. If I am making a big purchase, I ask around. I want to know who has used what and what the experience was before I make my final decision. If I’m deciding between two or three items, I will compare the regular price and discounts with coupons and/or store rewards card.

    Like you said, commercials are a mere reminder for me now.

    • ctmarcom · May 25, 2011

      Yep, a lot goes into a purchase decision. Advertising is basically just to keep those products in your mind. Thanks for stopping by!

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