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Psychology Jobs > Marketing Psychologist


According to the American Marketing Association, the definition of "marketing" is "the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large". Or, more simply put "marketing" is the science of selling goods and services on a spectrum of levels.

Anytime we walk into a store we are bombarded by displays of the multitude of merchandise available. These displays are put together with great skill to mix attractive colors, packaging, and messages that are meant to persuade the potential buyer to choose one product over another.

This is the realm of the marketing psychologist. This is a person who studies the psychology of what attracts people to merchandise, and what impels them to prefer one product over another. This is done by a close study of how age, gender, culture, interests, education, personal philosophies, and other factors combine to drive buying behavior.


"Marketing", a term that is nowadays almost interchangeable with the term "advertising", is the process of promoting products and services to customers. Marketing psychology is the study of how these potential customers are attracted to, and persuaded to, purchase merchandise as well as how companies build lasting relationships with those customers. It combines a study of what consumers need, and how to satisfy those needs and wants along with anticipating future needs.

In a modern world that is becoming more and more competitive, marketing psychologists are taking an ever-growing role in influencing how people spend their money, and what they spend it on. This behavior is what causes business, charities and public service campaigns, amongst other things, to succeed or fail. This is a major growth area in the job market and currently, according to statistics, the current median salary for a marketing psychologist is in the range of $83K.

What is Marketing Psychology?

In marketing psychology, the key word is truly "psychology". Psychology itself is the study of the mind, and the forces that drive human development and personality, and with it the wants and needs of both the individual and groups.

Humans, and human society are complicated. Imagery, use of words, use of colors and shapes and other physical factors impact different people, and different cultures, in different ways. Psychologists study how all of these factors work together to influence people and society.

Marketing psychology, simply put, is the study of communicating to potential buyers the value of certain merchandise or services. It is the science behind the "art" of selling merchandise, but it is only a fraction of what marketing psychology actually is.

What Does A Marketing Psychologist Do?

Have you ever wondered why it is that a person can walk into a department store with a short list of items to purchase, and then wind up buying considerably more than they originally planned to? This strategy makes it necessary for a person to need to walk long distances between the departments where they pick up necessities.

While walking between departments they have to pass by multiple displays of other items that are meant to catch the eye with their convenience, sale prices, or other things that make them attractive. This is an example of "marketing" strategy and designing these types of strategies is a large part of what marketing psychologists are responsible for.

All of us are also familiar with the experience of watching TV and using the Internet and viewing the advertisements that are constantly being shown, or coming in through our email. We see how advertisements use sexuality to sell items and services that depend on making people feel attractive. We also see how organizations raise money by playing on sympathy or guilt.

Additionally, we see how other advertisements play on low self-esteem and poor self-image to sell diet plans and skin care products. The marketing psychologists who plan these campaigns have made an extensive study of how people think and feel, and how to best play on their emotions.

Where do Marketing Psychologists Work?

Marketing psychologists frequently work in the private sector with advertising agencies and consulting firms. They use psychological research to devise plans for developing and selling merchandise, as well as studying why products and advertising campaigns succeed or fail. Other marketing psychologists work in university settings doing theoretical research on the physical aspects of marketing; how color, music, word use, and imagery can be used most effectively in advertising.

Marketing psychologists work both in industry and universities studying the purchasing behavior that causes some products to sell or not sell. They conduct market research studying how advertising and merchandising methods affect sales, how the buying public perceives different products, and how to make both advertising and merchandising more effective.

This requires that the marketing psychologist understand how factors of age, gender, ethnicity, location, interests, educational level, and socioeconomic status (personal and family income) and many other factors work together to create marketing venues.

How Do You Become A Marketing Psychologist?

To become a marketing psychologist it is necessary to complete a university degree in psychology. To work within a marketing department or agency requires a minimum of a Bachelor's degree, but to work in university level research requires a Doctorate degree.

Additionally, it is of use to the potential marketing psychologist to seriously study other areas of human society; sociology, anthropology, etc. to learn about the cultural and social factors that play into consumers' wants and needs.