Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Better Than The Real Thing

Scientists who study consumer behavior sometimes discover things that marketing practitioners instinctively have known for years. Case in point: a new study from a group of brain scientists at the California Institute of Technology.

According to American Scientist magazine, the scientists, headed by Antonio Rangel, wanted to find what affects people’s buying decisions more: a picture of a product, a description of it, or the real McCoy.

It’s an interesting question. Today more and more shopping is done online, though contrary to belief we still mostly use the web just to research the trip. The world of virtual search is a wonder wall but you can’t touch reality until you buy. You have to wait until desire shows up on your doorstep.

Rangel and company got together a group of 50 Cal Tech students. Each was either shown a picture of a snack, a written description of a snack, or the snack itself (the same experiment was run with Cal Tech key-chains, hats, and pens). Sure enough, the students who saw the real thing were willing to pay, on average, 50 percent more.

A good indicator of how sensuality can rule our actions. Many marketers see a digital day when changing people’s minds in-store will be a lost cause. Not likely. No matter what intention we arrive in store with, when we cross the threshold from consumer to shopper, our emotional fires can be lit.

1 comment:

Galfromdownunder said...

I believe this is why many sites like Banana Republic and Zappos, with their "buy it, try it, return it with no questions asked" return policy do so well. A BR phone sales consultant told me people will slap an entire range on their credit card, try it all on at home and conveniently return what they don't like to their local store. More often than not, they buy intending to return 90% of it, and after handling the stuff, feeling the quality and cut of the fabrics, end up keeping the lot. It also provides another avenue for BR to "re-stock" their stores with the most-requested items. We don't need virtual reality when we've got UPS ground reality!