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.