Retailers Continue to Use Shame as a Strategy for Marketing

Retailers Continue to Use Shame as a Strategy for Marketing

In 2005 when email marketing was at its peak, a lot of people enjoyed getting emails from their favorite sites and brands. After a while, people often chose to unsubscribe because those emails generated too much inbox clutter. Some of those companies sent responses to unsubscribe requests. Those responses were often described as "manipulinks" or "confirmshaming" as a reflection of the seemingly broken relationship between the consumer and the brand. Those messages were meant to guilt the reader into not confirming to cancel the subscription, much like a mother or mother-in-law would send an adult child or son or daughter-in-law on a guilt trip.

Some of those confirmshaming messages were to the effect of "Please don't go!" or "You're going to miss us!" This trend is still in place more than 10 years later. Many sites will ask the visitor to subscribe to emails in order to save 10 percent on a future purchase. Those who choose not to subscribe might see a message such as "No thanks, I prefer to pay full price."

This is a negative opt-out strategy meant to guilt and shame the user into sharing information or sticking around. Several blogs and websites are dedicated to this dark pattern of retail marketing. In the world of user experience, dark patterns are veiled attempts to trick web visitors into an action that they did not intend to do. They are meant to capture the viewer's attention.

As a psychological approach, it is still in use because it works. Shame is still a taboo. It holds a lot of power on the human mind. However, this strategy can backfire on companies. People do not like to feel bad about themselves. Nobody wants to feel guilty, stupid or foolish. With so many companies online vying for limited consumer dollars, people can simply go elsewhere with their money. Consumers may become desensitized to the approach or annoyed with the retailers who persist with this pattern. People who design websites for a living note that they actively avoid doing business with sites that continue to use manipulinks and confirmshaming as strategies. For more information click here

Retailers Marketing