Wednesday, 17 March 2010

How do magazines influence people's ideas of design and taste?

Thinking about this question in the first place I was stumped. Brainstorming the idea allowed me to loosen up and I soon found myself scrawling lots of questions and answers that I would like to find out. Answering some of the questions myself in my head, I was hoping that the way I interpreted them would be the way that others did too. Using my parent’s as guinea pigs, I asked them questions surrounding the topic – which proved quite successful. Scraping some questions and adding others, I was able to create a broader but focussed set of questions to gain an accurate set of answers.

Brainstorming the topic

Some examples of the questions I asked: If I were to give you £5 to spend in a newsagents, what would you buy? What do you buy a magazine/newspaper for? How would you describe yourself in 3 words? Apart from yourself who would you say that your children were influenced by?

Using both images and text, I planned to make the interview quite informal so as to make people comfortable when answering. Some were more relaxed than others though, and at times I was conscious of being watched when writing things down. Not wanting to distract, I decided to spend most of the interviews listening to what people had to say instead and interject with supplementary questions when necessary. At times when I asked a question and I felt that they were not being entirely honest, I decided to throw the same question in later on but word it slightly different. Most were happy to tell me then, suggesting that by presenting the question in a different way, people were more willing to divulge more.

Interviewing a real mixture of people, it proved useful in gaining a snippet into lots of different pockets of groups - the saying ‘no two are alike’ was so true here! I had someone who talked about their love of craft then someone who talked about their undying love for football, watching 40+ hours of it a week on television.

Television adverts friend’s comparison money role models music magazines shopping attitude tastes subliminal sponsors location kids Internet influences age family

Covering a lot of different sectors of the topic, I noticed that men were just as susceptible to influences as women - just not always by the same things. With all interviewees, I noticed that they seemed to have their own sense of style. Although they would be the first to disagree that they were influenced by a certain factor, for example the outfits that they had chosen to wear whether by their partner or for practicality reasons, there were certain things they listened to more than others. With most agreeing that they wore the clothes they wore for comfort, where had this idea of comfort come from? Was it individual? Or were the clothes being worn perceived to being comfortable from a magazine advert or from a friend? The list is endless. With 3/5 interviewees claiming that they had been influenced by a friend to buy an item of clothing, you could not help but wonder if they clothes they wore most of the time was due to a friend.

One thing I noticed a big difference between the sexes was their attitude towards shopping. Women seemed to embrace the idea that they were experts in this field where as men (and although most of them hated their outfits that their wives had chosen for them) seemed to let the women take over in this department. Indicating a lack of enthusiasm towards consumerism, I probed the men into why they took a step back with most agreeing that it would cause too many arguments to disagree with their wives. I wonder what a single man’s attitude would be to shopping? The two women agreed that they spent a lot of time shopping and although they didn’t like the idea of shopping itself they knew exactly how to compare prices and where they could get things cheaply. This for me implied that women might trust themselves with money more than their partners and preferred to keep track of their purchases. Probing the women, they told me that their husbands weren’t aware of the amount of money they spent on themselves and the family (maybe did know but just thought better of it to question them!)

It was clear that people were affected by factors such as price and friends when purchasing something. Although most denied price being an issue when I directly asked them this question, later questions allowed me to draw the conclusion that this was actually the case. One of the main talking points in the office once I had conducted the interviews was the cost of a holiday, with many people throwing in their own knowledge about prices and telling others where they could get things cheaper, it was clear that although people are not willing to admit, this sort of conversation suggests otherwise. People were much happier to admit that they had been influenced by friends than advertising giants, even though the latter probably played a bigger part in their life than they thought!

Until this assignment I had never noticed just how much advertising is a part of the beautiful game. One of the men that I interviewed stated he watched 40+ hours a week and seemed proud at the fact that he was not influenced in any way by adverting because he ‘did not watch the advert breaks ever’. Well, I disagree! Advertising is everywhere in football, not just in the commercial breaks, at the beginning and end of a program, advertising boards, match programs and even now the owners and companies that have bought into clubs are starting to steal more headlines than the clubs themselves. Right down to junior sides, advertising boards litter the pitch side and sponsors will appear on the strips – some a bit more ironic than others. Take my dad’s football team for example. Thornton Hibs JFC, hardly Inter Milan but with their ground nicknamed the San Siro, my dad likes to think that there are some similarities. There sponsor is Thornton Parish Church…now I’m not being funny but I’m sure the Man upstairs would not be impressed with his support to a team whose language is every bit as colourful as the rainbow!

My thought process

With everyone admitting that they spent more than £10 a month on magazines or newspapers, they were all at varying degrees exposing themselves to the competitive world we call the media. Preying on people, the adverts that are placed in magazines and newspapers are aimed at a specific audience. All admitting to buying products after they had appeared in magazines and some relied on reviews from other readers as the final push. 4/5 interviewee’s also admitted that they had bought a magazine because a certain celebrity had appeared in it, implying that celebrities, to a certain degree, can be very influential to our decision making.

Gaining an understanding in how people saw advertisements, I asked people to look at advertising images and telling me what they saw allowing them to free themselves from constraints they put on themselves (something that I am quite glad I did as people found it easier to take about visuals rather than try and put some things into words). Constantly looking for reassurance throughout the interview, here answers were exciting and people found it much easier to relax and say what they thought.

An interviewee undergoing the 'celebrity advertising knowledge'

Most people recognised the images that I presented them with, regardless of not whether they were male or female; men knew Cheryl Cole was a hair model for L’Oreal and women linked Wayne Rooney to being the face of Nike. I found that people recognised faces of those people, who for me, were easier to relate to. Cheryl Cole is perceived to be a down to earth Geordie girl and is someone that all girls aspire to be and guys aspire to be with! Wayne Rooney (although he was a blue and now a Manc) is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest players at the moment who young boys and men worship. With companies having their products being endorsed with these popular celebrities, they are certain to be successful. If we see someone we respect do something then we will copy but if a ‘face’ does something that we react badly to, just watch how fast a company drops them!

Overall the results gathered from the interview suggested that we can all be influenced in some way or another, with some being more effected than others. The levels in which we are exposed to vary depending on factors such as location, age, amount of television that is watched, magazines/newspapers that are read, children, but also for me the most important factor, the amount of time we allow ourselves to be exposed!

No comments:

Post a Comment