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Attention and Consumer Behavior

The phenomenon of attention might seem as a fairly simple concept to define, yet a closer analysis will prove that attention is a rather difficult notion to approach. It appears that attention can be described as the ability to notice details that will inform one’s future choices and decisions. In the context of marketing and consumer behavior, the ability to attract attention becomes an essential power that defines a company’s competitiveness.

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The fact that attention is a limited resource rarely crosses one’s mind; in fact, multiple myths about the skills of dividing one’s attention between several activities reinforces the assumption that attention can be expanded ad infinitum. However, distractions that people often use while being busy with a specific task may turn out to be less useful than they are typically believed to be. Specifically, the presence of sounds, vials, or a combination of the two that are irrelevant to the main task may cause one to make mistakes more frequently (Gopher, Armony, & Greenshpan, 2000).

Applying the concept of attention and the problem of distraction to marketing and consumer behavior analysis, one will notice that the same principles work when attracting the attention of buyers. For instance, one may need to consider a situation in which a specific product, such as a brand of smartphones, is advertised to a specific target audience. If, in an attempt to demonstrate the multitude of functions that the smartphone in question has, one overloads the video with music played on it, videos that it shows, and other types of media, the distraction becomes far too strong for the buyer to focus on the product itself. A similar effect can be achieved when showing a video with a plot playing on a smartphone in an advertisement. If the video in question becomes so engaging that it distracts the attention of potential buyers, the advertisement will fail at achieving the desired effect. Likewise, showing several smartphones with similar functions and pointing out the advantages of the one produced by a specific company is unlikely to capture the audience’s attention since it will be dispersed equally onto each of the smartphone types.

However, when considering the specifics of consumer behavior and especially the peculiarities of attention as a mental phenomenon, one will be able to achieve impressive success with the help of a proper advertising technique. For example, a situation in which a single product, such as a learning application, is introduced to the target audience will help to keep buyers’ undivided focus on the service in question. Furthermore, the use of a color scheme that is distinctively different from the background, as well as the absence of the visual information cluttering the view, will help to make the product visible and easily distinguishable for customers (Petit, Velasco, & Spence, 2019). A generic soundtrack, in turn, will allow keeping the audience’s attention on the application and not on the audio component, thus intensifying the focus. The described effect will be amplified by adding a unique sound scheme for the application and making the background music quieter compared to it.

Overall, human attention is quite easy to steer in the right direction, especially in those viewers who have never concerned themselves with how it works. As the amazing test by Levin and Simons (1997), as well as their door study (Simons & Levin, 1998) and the experiment by Simons, Franconeri, and Reimer (2000) prove, attention needs to be trained for audiences to spot the necessary details. Moreover, the peculiarities of how attention works can be used for developing effective marketing strategies. Noticing the details in the described videos was quite difficult for me even as a future marketer, which suggests that attention is a crucial resource that should be explored further.


Gopher, D., Armony, L., & Greenshpan, Y. (2000). Switching tasks and attention policies. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 129(3), 308-339. Web.

Levin, D. T., & Simons, D. J. (1997). Failure to detect changes to attended objects in motion pictures. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 4(4), 501-506. Web.

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Petit, O., Velasco, C., & Spence, C. (2019). Digital sensory marketing: Integrating new technologies into multisensory online experience. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 45, 42-61. Web.

Simons, D. J., Franconeri, S. L., & Reimer, R. L. (2000). Change blindness in the absence of a visual disruption. Perception, 29(10), 1143-1154. Web.

Simons, D. J., & Levin, D. T. (1998). Failure to detect changes to people during a real-world interaction. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 5(4), 644-649. Web.

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