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Why Consumers Are Tuning Out Promotions: 10 Psychological Factors to Consider

Why Consumers Are Tuning Out Promotions: 10 Psychological Factors to Consider

It’s often been said that having too much of something can devalue it. And while this might just be an old saying, it’s worth paying attention to if you're a B2C marketer hoping to connect with your audience. 

Just like anyone else, consumers are prone to human psychology. Having too many choices can choice overload (consumers growing overwhelmed by too many options) or it can encourage consumer empowerment (consumers growing confident by the sheer amount of brands vying for their attention, causing them to take their pick of the best.) 

But those aren’t the only consequences to watch out for. Here’s a list of 10 psychological consumer responses resulting from too much exposure to brand promotions.


1. Banner Blindness

Have you ever gotten so used to seeing something, that you begin to block it out of sight completely?

Consumers have developed banner blindness, which means they automatically ignore or overlook promotional content, especially when it appears as banner ads or pop-ups. They’ve gotten so used to seeing promotional content in digital spaces, that it’s led them to tune out these ads when they appear on screen. Your messages, no matter how valuable they might be, aren’t getting seen by consumers who are more interested in other areas of your online experience. 

If you’re going to promote your banners, make sure you’re only doing it when it is absolutely necessary. Be mindful of banner blindness and use creative and innovative ways to promote your content to capture consumers' attention and engagement.


2. Ad Fatigue

Have you ever gotten tired of seeing the same thing repeatedly? Consumers are no different.

Continuous exposure to repetitive or irrelevant promotions can lead to ad fatigue. Consumers become desensitized to the messaging and may start ignoring promotions altogether, perceiving them as repetitive or irrelevant.

This sort of emotion isn’t good for consumers or your brand. You want consumers to be excited about receiving your messages, not growing tired of them. Here’s a few ways you can combat ad fatigue:

  • Creating relevant and engaging ads
  • Varying ad formats and placements
  • Setting frequency caps
  • Monitoring ad performance

By following these tips, you can create ads that are more likely to be seen, remembered, and acted upon. 

3. Selective Attention

Consumers have limited attention spans, and they tend to focus on content that aligns with their immediate needs or interests. That means a banner encouraging them to join an email list may not do the trick if they’re only interested in buying their favorite product.

If promotions fail to capture their attention quickly, they may tune them out in favor of other content. There has to be something included in your message that makes them stop what they're doing and pay attention.

This could be anything from a creative and eye-catching visual to a compelling headline or offer. It's important to remember that consumers are bombarded with promotional messages all day long, so you need to find a way to make your message stand out from the crowd.

4. Perceived Lack of Value

It’s human nature to pay attention to things that seem to hold the most value. It’s the brain’s way of allocating resources efficiently. If consumers feel that promotions do not offer substantial value or are not relevant to their needs, they are more likely to ignore them. This system is based on the brain's internal reward system. When consumers see something they think is valuable, their brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes them feel good. This motivates consumers to pay attention to what causes the good feelings and to seek it out.

The perceived value of the promotion plays a significant role in capturing consumer attention. Consumers may perceive a promotion to be valuable if it:


  • Offers a significant discount or savings
  • Provides exclusive access to a product or service
  • Is relevant to their interests and needs
  • Is endorsed by a trusted source
  • Creates a sense of urgency or scarcity

You can help increase consumer perceived value by relying on tactics you likely employ already. Using personalization, testimonials, or scarcity, you can create promotions more likely to capture consumer attention and drive sales.

5. Choice Overload 

Consumers are exposed to an overwhelming amount of information and stimuli daily. From new limited-time offers to social media posts and pop-up ads, it can be difficult for consumers to handle all of the messages coming their way.

Too many promotions and marketing messages can lead to choice overload, making it difficult for consumers to process or retain promotional content effectively. As a result, consumers are becoming more selective about the information they pay attention to. They are more likely to tune out generic or irrelevant promotions, and are more likely to focus on promotions that are relevant to their needs and interests.

To reach consumers in this crowded environment, you must be creative and strategic with your marketing messages. Create promotions that are relevant, valuable, and timely. Pay close attention to tactics like personalization that can help make your messages more meaningful and engaging.

6. Negativity Bias

While it’d be nice to always remember positive experiences, psychologists say that humans are actually more likely to vividly remember negative experiences than positive ones. They refer to it as loss aversion or negativity bias. 

It’s the idea that you’re more likely to remember losing $5 than you are finding it on the street. Consumers are the same way. If they had negative encounters with irrelevant or intrusive promotions, there’s a pretty good chance they remember and may be more likely to avoid engaging with promotions in the future.

Use this as a reminder to be mindful of the types of promotions you run and how you deliver them. Avoid running irrelevant or intrusive promotions or sending messages to consumers who did not opt-in to receive them. 

7. Ad Blocking

Thanks to things like ad fatigue, negativity bias, and intrusiveness, ad-blocking software has become more prevalent, allowing consumers to filter out promotional content. It allows them to take control of their user experience and steer clear of marketing materials that don’t fit their needs. While this might benefit consumers, it also means they’re blocking out your content, making them completely unaware of its value. 

8. Trust Issues

When’s the last time you looked at reviews to determine whether or not you should try a new restaurant or buy a pair of shoes? Did you choose the option with all five-star reviews or the one with a 4.2 rating?

If you picked the ladder, you likely believed it was more trustworthy than the one with a perfect rating. And you’re not alone, psychologists say that consumers want more out of reviews than a perfect rating

Consumers may be wary of promotions that seem too good to be true or come from unfamiliar or untrustworthy sources. A lack of trust can lead to skepticism and tuning out promotional messages.

9. Intrusiveness

No one wants to be interrupted by marketing messages when engaging in a different activity. Intrusive promotions, such as disruptive pop-up ads or autoplay videos, can create a negative user experience, causing consumers to ignore or avoid promotional content.

Not only that, but intrusive marketing messages can add to other overwhelming emotions like choice overload, a state of anxiety that occurs when people are faced with too many choices. To help ensure that your content isn’t perceived as intrusive, ensure it’s relevant to your audience. What benefit are you providing your customers? Will interacting with your CTA help make their consumer journey easier? 

Offering clear, tangible value can help shift the consumer’s feelings from negative to positive and encourage them to interact with your content.

10. Consumer Empowerment

Having so many brand and product options to choose from has caused consumers to have greater expectations for their experiences with brands.

This has led to a shift in consumer expectations. Consumers now expect brands to understand their individual needs and preferences and to deliver personalized and relevant experiences. Generic or irrelevant promotions may not resonate with them and can cause them to tune out your messages. 

To meet these expectations, invest in understanding your customers and their individual needs and preferences. Here’s how you can get started:

  • Collect customer data: This can be done through surveys, loyalty programs, and website analytics.
  • Create targeted promotions: Develop promotions that are relevant to each customer segment.
  • Track and measure results: Track the results of your promotions to see what is working and what is not.

Understanding these psychological factors can help you design more effective and engaging promotional strategies that align with consumers' needs and preferences, reducing the likelihood of promotions being tuned out. Use this blog as a guide to stay up-to-date on the latest consumer psychology research and insights. Check-in periodically for updated psychology proof points.


Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.

Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.