Can You Sell Confidence? Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns in Marketing

Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns in Marketing
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As we all learned at an early age, a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. But if we dive deeper, we find there are two categories of nouns: concrete vs. abstract nouns. A concrete noun can be identified by one of the five senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch). An abstract noun cannot.

Concrete nouns are things like water, cupcakes, a pair of jeans, or a tree, while abstract nouns include ideas like happiness, education, and bravery. Both types of nouns can be helpful in writing, but it’s important to know when each type can be helpful, especially in marketing.

Concrete Nouns

Concrete nouns

Because of the nature of marketing content, most of the nouns you’ll use when writing for marketing will be concrete. You’ll most likely be talking about a product or a service, most of which can be identified by one of the five senses.

  Example: The stunning colors of this new makeup will make you swoon!

            Example: Chocolate-covered pretzels — the perfect combination of salty and sweet.

            Example: His newest song, out today, has a beautiful melody and a catchy beat.

            Example: This fabric is so soft, you’ll never want to wear anything else.

            Example: Cover any unpleasant odors with the fresh linen scent of our new air freshener!

Concrete nouns tell people what they’re getting. Paired with the right adjectives, concrete nouns can help the audience experience the product before they purchase it. Because they can experience it, they pay attention to your writing.

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns

On the other hand, abstract nouns are trickier to implement in marketing copy because they are intangible. However, they can work to the seller’s advantage if used carefully. Abstract nouns like happiness, confidence, and other similar concepts can be used in marketing to sell an idea.

If you can convince your audience your product will help them achieve an abstract goal, that can be a selling point.

 Example: We don’t sell clothes — we sell confidence.

You can’t really sell confidence — it’s an abstract concept. But by suggesting their product is more than a piece of fabric to put on your body, the seller communicates that they can help the buyer with more than just the wardrobe.

On Old Spice’s website, it says “Smell Confident.” In this sense, “confident” is an adjective and not a noun, but the concept is the same. Confidence does not have a scent because it is abstract, but the marketing suggests that this is the product that will solve your confidence (or smell) issues.

So whether you’re selling clothes, candles, or chocolate-covered pretzels, think about how the nouns you use might look to your audience. Both concrete nouns and abstract nouns can be useful in marketing, but it depends on your marketing goal. Concrete nouns are more likely to attract your audience’s attention to what you’re selling, while abstract nouns can be used in more of an aspirational sense.

Concrete nouns can be identified by one of the five senses, while abstract nouns cannot. #HelpfulHint Click To Tweet

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About the author

Cassie LaJeunesse

Cassie LaJeunesse is doing everything in her power to prove wrong the people who scoffed at her English degree. A former college newspaper editor, she now writes and edits content for a regional magazine. She also finds time to freelance for her alma mater and other publications, writing and editing in a variety of styles and subjects. Now that she has completed her degree, she uses her free time to read as much as possible, sing in a choir, and hang out with her cat, Gilbert.