Are Scare Tactics the New Way to Move Merchandise? 

Pampers, marketing, blowout

In times of economic turbulence, brands and retailers have been known to turn to some pretty wild scare tactics to ensure that customers keep reaching for their wallets. Inflation, the bogeyman of fiscal policy, often leaves people tightening their belts, both figuratively and literally. 

But what if we told you that some companies use a more “explosive” approach to get your attention, with Pampers leading the charge? Yes, you read that right. Pampers, the diaper giant, is making a stink about diaper blowouts in hopes to sell more diapers. 

A recent survey by Pampers revealed statistics that have alerted parents of diaper-wearing kids across the nation. According to their findings, 13 million diaper blowouts occur weekly in the U.S. Diapers seem akin to hand grenades, poised to detonate at any moment. 

Furthermore, six out of ten parents surveyed confessed to fearing potential blowouts. You can almost envision them tip-toeing like secret agents, skillfully traversing the treacherous landscape of a nursery. It’s a nerve-wracking realm where even the faintest coo or a questionable aroma can trigger intense reactions in the hearts of parents. 

And for the truly anxious parents, the news gets even more absurd. Pampers’ survey found that more than a third of parents (35%) live in constant fear of blowouts happening at any time.  

With all the messiness in mind, Pampers has rolled up their sleeves and decided to tackle it head-on with a revamped Pampers Swaddlers, now sporting the clever “blowout barrier.” These diapers feature a back waist cuff, front waistband, and absorbent top sheet, all meticulously crafted to thwart diaper leaks and keep baby’s skin in a dry and healthy state. 

“The shame and embarrassment of dealing with a diaper blowout, especially when I’m out and about with my son, is real. I’m excited that Pampers Swaddlers are here to help make blowouts a thing of the past,” said NBA athlete and dad CJ McCollum in the Thursday (Oct. 19) news release

Why Brands Enlist Fear to Sell Products  

Fear is one of the four key emotions that drive people to action, alongside desire, anger and love. It can be a compelling force that grabs the audience’s attention, creates a sense of urgency, and drives consumers to take action.  

Whether it’s a health-related product promising to protect against disease, a security system guaranteeing safety, or even a campaign encouraging eco-friendly practices to combat climate change, fear can be harnessed to make individuals consider the potential consequences of inaction. 

With that in mind, the appeal of using fear in marketing lies in its ability to create a strong emotional connection with the audience. By highlighting potential risks and dangers, brands can stimulate a fear-driven response, prompting individuals to make a purchase, adopt a healthy behavior, or take preventive measures.  

Other Brands That Use Fear to Boost Sales  

Pampers isn’t the only one to enlist fear to market and sell products. For example, a pretty common fear is halitosis, a fear Listerine has leaned into. 

In the 1920s, Listerine coined a phrase to describe unpleasant breath, all with the aim of boosting sales for its namesake product. Prior to this, Listerine had been available for many years, initially as a surgical antiseptic and later as a means to eliminate oral germs, and it was doing reasonably well in the market. However, its sales skyrocketed when it was rebranded as a remedy for a condition that sounded medically significant. 

Another instance involves Head & Shoulders, a brand by Procter & Gamble, which asserted in its advertisements that 50% of individuals have experienced dandruff

Another brand that capitalizes on fear is LifeLock, which targets the fear centers of the brain to promote the company’s identity theft services. LifeLock utilizes videos and quotes that provide real-life examples of individuals who lost their jobs, had their credit ruined or had loans taken out using their social security numbers.