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Posts Tagged ‘branding

Why Fondness Makes Us Poor Judges, But Dislike Is Spot-on

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How good are we at guessing other people’s likes and dislikes? Ever bring a favorite dish to a potluck — only to watch it go uneaten? Or receive an unwelcome shock when a cherished product is discontinued for lack of sales? People have the tendency to assume the whole world likes what we like, reveals new research from the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. However, we don’t generalize the same way when it comes to things we hate.

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Ambiguity – Look twice, as in Magic-Eye-Images, so in buying decisions…

“The degree of false consensus depends on whether a person likes or dislikes an item,” explain Andrew D. Gershoff (University of Michigan), Ashesh Mukherjee (McGill University), and Anirban Mukhopadhyay (University of Michigan).

Participants in one study were asked to choose a movie they like. They were then asked to guess what percentage of their peers liked the movie as well. On average, people estimated that 51.2 percent of other people also liked the movie, a significant overestimate. They also estimated that only 18.2 percent of people, on average, disliked it — a reflection of the belief that more people agree with us than disagree.

In contrast, when asked to choose a movie they dislike and make the same estimate, participants were less self-centered: they thought people would agree and disagree with their opinion in roughly the same numbers.

As the researchers explain, “This finding arises from a deeper truth about the human mind, namely that things we like are seen to contain primarily good characteristics, while things we dislike are seen to contain a mix of bad, neutral, or good characteristics.”

We might even like everything about an item — except for one unforgivable, deal-breaking trait.

“This difference leads us to make more exaggerated predictions that people like the same things we do, compared to predictions that people will dislike the same things that we dislike,” the researchers add.

Another study of ice cream sundaes found that those who liked a certain flavor combination — say, mint ice cream with walnuts and hot fudge — overestimated that people would share their fondness for the sundae by 9.9 percent. Those who disliked it only overestimated that people would share their repulsion by 0.8 percent.

They conclude: “Our research indicates that decision-makers in such situations need to be highly sensitive to the danger of over-projecting their own likes, more so than their own dislikes.”

JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc. • Vol. 33 • March 2007
All rights reserved. 0093-5301/2007/3304-0009$10.00

DOI: 10.1086/510223

Few Ways to Love, but Many Ways to Hate: Attribute Ambiguity and the Positivity Effect in Agent Evaluation

Andrew D. Gershoff

Ashesh Mukherjee

Anirban Mukhopadhyay

Recent research has identified a positivity effect in consumers’ evaluations of agents, such as friends and professional critics, who provide word-of-mouth evaluations and recommendations. Specifically, agreement with an agent on previously loved alternatives is perceived as more diagnostic of the agent’s suitability than agreement on previously hated alternatives. This article argues that the positivity effect arises from greater ambiguity about attribute ratings of hated versus loved alternatives. Three studies support this by showing that the effect is moderated by the number of attributes, the number of alternatives, and the revelation of an agent’s attribute ratings, and is mediated by attribute ambiguity.

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Written by huehueteotl

April 23, 2008 at 9:04 am

Brand Logo Can Make You ‘Think Different’

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Whether you are a Mac person or a PC person, even the briefest exposure to the Apple logo may make you behave more creatively, according to recent research from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the University of Waterloo, Canada.

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In work to be published in the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, Professors Gavan Fitzsimons and Tanya Chartrand of Duke, and Gráinne Fitzsimons of Waterloo, found that even the briefest exposure to well-known brands can cause people to behave in ways that mirror those brands’ traits.

“Each of us is exposed to thousands of brand images every day, most of which are not related to paid advertising,” said Gavan Fitzsimons. “We assume that incidental brand exposures do not affect us, but our work demonstrates that even fleeting glimpses of logos can affect us quite dramatically.”

To assess the effects of brands on behavior, the researchers selected two competing brands, both well respected by consumers, with distinct and well-defined brand personalities. “Apple has worked for many years to develop a brand character associated with nonconformity, innovation and creativity,” said Chartrand, “and IBM is viewed by consumers as traditional, smart and responsible.”

The team conducted an experiment in which 341 university students completed what they believed was a visual acuity task, during which either the Apple or IBM logo was flashed so quickly that they were unaware they had been exposed to the brand logo.  The participants then completed a task designed to evaluate how creative they were, listing all of the uses for a brick that they could imagine beyond building a wall.

People who were exposed to the Apple logo generated significantly more unusual uses for the brick compared with those who were primed with the IBM logo, the researchers said. In addition, the unusual uses the Apple-primed participants generated were rated as more creative by independent judges.

“This is the first clear evidence that subliminal brand exposures can cause people to act in very specific ways,” said Gráinne Fitzsimons. “We’ve performed tests where we’ve offered people $100 to tell us what logo was being flashed on screen, and none of them could do it. But even this imperceptible exposure is enough to spark changes in behavior.”

Other than their defined brand personalities, the researchers argue there is not anything unusual about Apple and IBM that causes this effect. The team conducted a follow-up experiment using the Disney and E! Channel brands, and found that participants primed with the Disney Channel logo subsequently behaved much more honestly than those who saw the E! Channel logos.

“These experiments demonstrate that most any brand that has strong associations with particular traits could have the capacity to influence how we act,” Chartrand said.

The researchers note practical implications of their work for both consumers and marketers.

“Instead of spending the majority of their money on traditional print and television advertising, companies with established brand associations such as Apple may want to give serious consideration to shifting more marketing resources to product placement opportunities and other forms of outreach that emphasize brief brand exposures,” Gavan Fitzsimons said.

And consumers should be aware that they are susceptible to influences they may not detect and use this knowledge to their advantage. “If you know you need to perform well on some task, say something athletic, you may want to surround yourself with images and brand logos that represent success in athletics,” Gráinne Fitzsimons said.

Fitzsimons, Gráinne M., Tanya L. Chartrand and Gavan J. Fitzsimons (in press) “Automatic Effects of Brand Exposure on Motivated Behavior: How Apple Makes You “Think Different”,” Journal of Consumer Research.

Written by huehueteotl

March 31, 2008 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Psychology

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Touch Does Affect Flavor

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Does coffee in a flimsy cup taste worse than coffee in a more substantial cup? Firms such as McDonalds and Starbucks spend millions of dollars every year on disposable packaging, but a new study suggests that trying to skimp in this area might not be worth it — and may negatively impact consumers’ perceptions of taste and quality.

In a series of four experiments, Aradhna Krishna (University of Michigan) and Maureen Morrin (Rutgers University) find that many people do indeed judge a drink by its container. Specifically, the firmness of a cup seems to have an impact on consumer evaluations of the beverage contained inside.

“We found that the nondiagnostic haptic qualities of a product package or serving container can affect how a product is evaluated; that is, such cues can indeed have an effect on product evaluation,” the researchers write.

Not everyone has the same sensitivity to touch, though, the researchers explain. They first performed a pretest to determine which participants were strong autotelics — the sort of people who like to touch things before they buy them — and which participants were not particularly inclined to touch products (low autotelics).

Participants then evaluated the feel of the cups while blindfolded or in an evaluation in which they could both feel and see. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largest difference in ratings for the firm and the flimsy cups was in the blindfolded condition among those most sensitive to touch.

However, the researchers also found that those who like to touch are least influenced by touch in taste evaluations. Indeed, in a taste test of the same mineral water from both a flimsy and a firm cup, it was low autotelics who gave the most negative evaluations of the taste of the water in the flimsy cup.

The results were similar when participants were just told about the containers in a written description and did not actually feel them: Low autotelics expressed a willingness to pay more for a firm bottle of water, while high autotelics did not.

The researchers explain: “High (vs. low) autotelics receive more pleasure from touching objects, tend to touch them more, and are more consciously aware of the potential effect of haptic clues on product judgment. As a result, they are more capable of adjusting for such clues in their product judgments when they are nondiagnostic in nature.”

Journal of Consumer Research April 2008 – Ahead of Print, Page 000
Does Touch Affect Taste? The Perceptual Transfer of Product Container Haptic Cues
Aradhna Krishna Maureen Morrin, John Deighton served as editor and Laura Peracchio served as associate editor for this article.

We develop a conceptual framework regarding the perceptual transfer of haptic or touch-related characteristics from product containers to judgments of the products themselves. Thus, the firmness of a cup in which water is served may affect consumers’ judgments of the water itself. This framework predicts that not all consumers are equally affected by such nondiagnostic haptic cues. Results from four studies show that consumers high in the autotelic need for touch (general liking for haptic input) are less affected by such nondiagnostic haptic cues compared to consumers low in the autotelic need for touch. The research has many implications for product and package design.

Electronically published October 17, 2007

Written by huehueteotl

March 18, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Posted in Psychology

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Boots No. 1 Dating Back To Cleopatra?

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 Marketers and critics alike have assumed that branding began in the West with the Industrial Revolution. But a pioneering new study in the February 2008 issue of Current Anthropology finds that attachment to brands far predates modern capitalism, and indeed modern Western society.  Hence author David Wengrow explains: “… combined use of seals and standardized packaging played a central role in the emergence of the world’s first large-scale economies. Comparative analysis of more recent branding practices suggests that these functions may necessarily be intertwined, since the enchanting properties of branded commodities are grounded in guarantees of quality, which in turn are based—paradoxically—upon the disenchantment of production.”
He thus challenges the widespread assumption that branding did not become an important force in social and economic life until the Industrial Revolution. Wengrow presents compelling evidence that labels on ancient containers, which have long been assumed to be simple identifiers, as well as practices surrounding the production and distribution of commodities, actually functioned as branding strategies. Furthermore, these strategies have deep cultural origins and cognitive foundations, beginning in the civilizations of Egypt and Iraq thousands of years ago.

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Branding became necessary when large-scale economies started mass-producing commodities such as alcoholic drinks, cosmetics and textiles. Ancient societies not only imposed strict forms of quality control over these commodities, but as today they needed to convey value to the consumer. Wengrow finds that commodities in any complex, large society needs to pass through a “nexus of authenticity.”

Through history, these have taken the form of “the bodies of the ancestral dead, the gods, heads of state, secular business gurus, media celebrities, or that core fetish of post-modernity, the body of the sovereign consumer citizen in the act of self-fashioning.” Although capitalism and branding find in each other a perfect complement, they have distinct origins. Wengrow shows that branding has for millennia filled a deep-seated need for us humans to find value in the goods that we consume.

Egyptian perfume bottle. Could product branding have begun in ancient Egypt? (Credit: iStockphoto)
Current Anthropology Volume 49, Number 1, February 2008 © 2008 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved.0011-3204/2008/4901-0001 DOI: 10.1086/523676

Prehistories of Commodity Branding

by David Wengrow

Commodity branding has been characterized as the distinguishing cultural move of late capitalism and is widely viewed as a historically distinctive feature of the modern global economy. The brand’s rise to prominence following the Industrial Revolution and the attendant shift of corporate enterprise towards the dissemination of image-based products have been further cited as contributing to the erosion of older forms of identity such as those based on kinship and class. However, comparisons between recent forms of branding and much earlier modes of commodity marking associated with the Urban Revolution of the fourth millennium BC suggest that systems of branding address a paradox common to all economies of scale and are therefore likely to arise (and to have arisen) under a wide range of ideological and institutional conditions, including those of sacred hierarchies and stratified states. An examination of the material and cognitive properties of sealing practices and the changing functions of seals in their transition from personal amulets to a means of labeling mass-produced goods helps to unpack the interlocking (pre)histories of quality control, authenticity, and ownership that make up the modern brand.

Written by huehueteotl

February 20, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Prior Experience Shapes How Consumers Compute New Information

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Over time, consumers develop a set of cues that we then use to make inferences about products, such as “all French restaurants have great service” or “more expensive candles smell better.” However, this set of predictable beliefs can make it difficult for us to learn and recognize other real, positive qualities that are indicated by the same cues, reveals a new study.

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“Once people learned that a cue predicted an outcome, they became less likely to learn about this very same cue with respect to a different outcome,” write Marcus Cunha Jr. (University of Washington), Chris Janiszewski, and Juliano Laran (both University of Florida). “The implication is that the learning system is designed to discourage single cue–multiple outcome learning.”

In the pilot study of a series of five experiments, the researchers used cheese tasting to explore the development of predictive knowledge structures, a phenomenon also known as “protection of prior learning.” They first had participants taste an orange rind Raclette cheese that was mild and creamy, and a purple rind Drunken Goat cheese that was much stronger tasting and dry. They then had participants rate the cheeses on a scale of mild to strong to induce the association with an orange rind and a mild flavored cheese. A control group also tasted two different types of cheese but did not rate them.

To test whether an association between an orange rind and mild flavor would make it more difficult for consumers to gauge other existing qualities, such as texture, tasters were then asked to rate the creaminess of a mild, creamy Port Salut with an orange rind and a dry Manchego with no rind. Surprisingly, participants were less likely than the control group to expect the second orange rind cheese to be creamy, even though the first one had also been creamy. As the researchers explain, “Learning that the orange rind predicted a difference in the strength of flavor . . . attenuated the learning that the orange rind predicted creaminess.”

This research has important implications for marketers, policy makers and consumers. For instance, the researchers point to Merck’s introduction of the cholesterol-lowering drug Simvastatin under the brand name Zocor. Recently, researchers found that Simvastatin may be also effective at preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This opportunity creates a branding dilemma for Merck,” the researchers write. “Our findings suggest that consumers may be slower to learn the Alzheimer’s relief association to [Zocor] than to a new brand name.”

Similarly, from a public policy standpoint, the results suggest that people may be resistant to adopt new health and safety standards when information conflicts with prior learning. Beyond creating awareness, successful campaigns might present new information in a way that does not utilize attributes already associated with another outcome.

Journal of Consumer Research, Page 000–000, DOI: 10.1086/523293 Electronically published October 10, 2007

Marcus Cunha Jr. Chris Janiszewski Juliano Laran, John Deighton served as editor and Susan Broniarczyk served as associate editor for this article.
 
As a product category evolves, consumers have the opportunity to learn a series of feature-benefit associations. Initially, consumers learn that some features predict a critical benefit, whereas other features do not. Subsequently, consumers have the opportunity to assess if previously predictive features, or novel features, predict new product benefits. Surprisingly, later learning is characterized by attenuated learning about previously predictive features relative to novel features. This tendency to ignore previously predictive features is consistent with a desire to protect prior learning.

Written by huehueteotl

February 18, 2008 at 11:28 am

Posted in Psychology

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