Posted on by Amber Merton

Is Advertising Following Us Into Our Dreams? [Survey] - PlushBeds

Key Findings

  • Most dreams about brands involved shopping in person or online. Using a product came in second place.
  • Over half of those surveyed said they have recently used or purchased the product they saw in their dream.
  • Over half of the respondents also said they have had nightmares about a brand or product.
  • Men seemed more likely to have nightmares about overspending.

Dreaming is a complex mental and emotional process. It has been studied for as long as human beings have been around. Starting from the ancient times of oracles and dream interpretations to the contemporary scientific studies on dreaming, we can see that our response to dreaming hasn’t changed all that much, if at all.

We can still wake up filled with fear or dread after a nightmare or full of joy and wonder after a good dream. Dreams often involve things we encounter in our daily life, such as the products we use, the brands we see, and the advertising we are exposed to.

So we decided to conduct a survey of over 1,000 people to see how dreaming affects the purchasing decision of the average individual. We covered baby boomers, millennials, Gen Xers, and Gen Zers to see if there are differences in how they dream about brands and products. Each group had its share of unique responses as well as general patterns that matched the whole.

We found that there are marked differences in how millennials dream about products and brands versus how baby boomers and other generations do. Not just that, each generation had a unique dominant emotional response to such dreams.

Dreams and nightmares had unexpected consequences on the purchasing behavior of our responders. There was a noticeable difference in the purchase value (measured in dollars) based on the brands that appeared in the dream.

If you want to know whether dreams can change the way you shop, read on.

Shopping in Our Dreams

Our online survey revealed, surprisingly, that as many as 7 out of 10 people have had a dream about a brand or a product. In most of the dreams, the person saw themselves either shopping in person or shopping online. Most others saw themselves using a product, and the rest merely saw an advertisement.

dreaming about brands

Most people who dreamed about a brand or a product reported having used it recently (58%). The next most likely connection came out to be sleeping on a big purchase decision (33%). Over half of those surveyed said they have experienced a nightmare about a brand or a product. Those who dreamed of shopping online were more likely to have had a nightmare about overspending, with men were more likely than women to have this nightmare.

Millennials seemed more likely to see an ad in their dreams, and Gen Xers and baby boomers were more likely to dream about using a product.

Those who dreamed only of brands (and not products) were more likely to have been satisfied with their sleep quality. There appeared to be some brands that are more likely to be associated with nightmares, which were also explored in the survey.

The Stuff Dreams Are Made of

As it turns out, some brands are more prone to causing nightmares in people than others. Google turned out to be the most likely brand to be involved in a nightmare surrounding a product or a brand, it seems to have appeared in both dreams and nightmares with more appearances in the latter type. Nissan and Playboy also featured prominently in the list of brands likely to pop up in nightmares.

brands in nightmares

Apple came out as the most likely brand to be part of a dream, followed by Nike and Amazon. It is interesting to note that all three are lifestyle brands for the most part, and both Apple and Nike have emotional and inspirational tones to their marketing. Amazon’s branding strategy, also, tends to focus on being user-friendly. However, it is not possible to tell at this time whether these qualities were contributing factors.

People who dreamed about a brand or product were most likely to be heavy users of it, consider it a favorite, or want to use it more. Only 11% said they hated the product or brand that they dreamed of.

Branded Dreams

Our dreams are big influencers in our personal life, and it is no different for our purchasing decisions. Over half of the respondents said they were more likely to engage with a brand or product after having dreamed of it.

products in your dreams

A large majority of those surveyed, 7 out of 10, had made a purchase after dreaming about a brand or product. Top brands whose products were purchased after a dream included Playboy, Adidas, FedEx, Nissan, Levis, and Instagram. The interesting thing to note here is that a few of these brands also appeared at the top of the brands involved in the nightmares list.

About one-third reported spending between $5 and $50 after dreaming about a brand like Coke and McDonald’s. Surprisingly, the next most common answer was the over $500 category, which was the response for one-fifth of the respondents. They related their purchase to dreams about Instagram. The remaining half spent anywhere between $51 and $500 without any strong bias toward any price brackets.

Screens Before Snooze

The last waking experience before sleeping can play a major role in influencing our dreams. We also asked about respondents’ media consumption habits before bed. On average, our respondents tended to spend around 60 minutes consuming various kinds of media before sleeping.

consuming media before bed

The most common type of media consumption was videos, such as those on YouTube, followed by TV shows and social media, respectively. However, those who were listening to music seemed to be more likely to make a purchase after dreaming about a brand or a product.

Since advertising is shown on all kinds of media platforms, we asked our respondents about their opinion on advertising. Over 70% agreed that there needs to be more legislation on how ads interact with our daily life – that companies have taken targeted advertising too far.

We also found that those using social media before bed were more likely to make a purchase after dreaming about it. They were also more likely to be surprised by their dreams. Those watching videos were more likely to be sleeping on big purchase decisions. Most significantly, those who saw the most ads online were also the ones most likely to make a purchase after dreaming about a product or brand.

The Look of Dreams

Most people, about 75%, reported feeling happy after their dream, and about 35% felt surprised. Feelings like anticipation, fear, sadness, disgust, and anger were the least likely to be associated with dreams about brands and products, but they still did occur. Anger was the least common feeling reported. To better report on dreams and the emotions associated with them, we analyzed respondents’ descriptions of dreams and created the collages below.

dream collage

women's dreams

men's dreams

Surprisingly, those who felt disgusted by their dreams were also the most likely to buy products after dreaming about them. Gen Z seemed more likely to feel sadness after a dream, baby boomers were likely to be happy, Gen X surprised, and millennials angry.

Conclusion

Advertising appears to be infiltrating our dreams, and this may be cause for concern for consumers. Companies are very likely to spend a lot of time making advertising stick in a way that makes it past our conscious mind and seeps deep into the unconscious. Whether or not more legislation is forthcoming and if it will help at all remains to be seen. Overall, we can see that dreaming about an ad, brand, or product is relatively common in the populace and often leads to individuals making purchases.

Dreaming is a weird phenomenon that most all of us can relate to. We can have good dreams or bad dreams on any given night, but in the end, what’s important is you getting the rest you deserve. At PlushBeds, we’d like to help you sleep better. We use certified organic and natural materials for our products ranging from vegan silk sheets to latex mattresses. Turn your nightly rest into deep, restorative sleep with PlushBeds.

Methodology and Limitations

We surveyed 1,019 people who have had dreams about ads, brands, and/or products regarding the nature of their dreams and the emotions surrounding them.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents were men, and 43% of respondents were women. Eight percent of respondents were baby boomers or older, 29% of respondents were Gen X, 56% were millennials, and 7% were Gen Z. A 4% to 8% margin of error is average for surveys of this nature.

The data are based on self-reporting. With self-reported data, there are limitations, such as the over- or underreporting of information as well as exaggerated numbers and answers. In this case, a small sample size of Gen Z and baby boomer respondents may result in exaggerated findings for the remaining generations.

Fair Use Statement

You are welcome to share these dream stats with anyone who can’t stop shopping even in their dreams. All we ask is that you do so for noncommercial purposes and link back to this article whenever you share these findings.

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