Advertising promotes choice

Clothes, car insurance, computers, holidays... we have never had so much choice as consumers. Yet we all have different tastes and needs. No single product is right for everyone.

Making decaf with chemicals is, honestly, just messing with the natural order of things.

Companies use advertising to tell us about the distinct products they offer in response to this diversity. When you see an ad for coffee, for example, it can

  • Inform you about lower prices (e.g. 'buy one get one free' promotion).
  • Tell you about differences in quality (e.g. improved packaging that keeps the coffee fresh longer).
  • Tell you about the options that best fit your individual tastes and values (e.g. coffee certified with the 'Fair Trade' label).
  • Inform you about the options that best suit your lifestyle (e.g. coffee capsules for instant espresso).

Advertising, in other words, allows companies to provide a much broader range of options than would otherwise be the case. By telling us about them, advertising ensures that we don't need to settle for second best. It helps us exercise our right to choose.

1Carlton, Dennis & Jeffrey Perloff. Modern Industrial Organization, 1989