Monday, March 31, 2014

Blank Out to Increase Consumption

Researchers at University of Georgia and University of Pennsylvania asked consumers to evaluate packages designed to look incomplete. The result of this was a belief among the consumers that the package held a lower quantity compared to packages of equivalent size and weight, but without blanks in the design. It’s as if the missing portion generated feelings in the consumer that part of the contents had leaked out, leaving less behind.
     A byproduct of this perception was how people in the study desired a larger quantity of the contents from an incomplete package than from a complete package. The blank stimulated demand.
     Results from other studies indicate that the effect isn’t due only to the unusual shape of the incomplete container. At University of Southern California, shoppers presented with two unfamiliar products in a category—one of the products in an unusually-shaped container and the other one not—said, on average, that they’d get more for their money if they were to buy the product in the unusual container. The researchers concluded it’s because the unusual shape draws more attention, and the consumer’s brain subconsciously translates the extra attention into higher value.
     The blank presents a bit of a mystery, and mysteries intrigue us. Research findings from Indiana University and University of Colorado-Boulder show the value of a mystery ad format, in which you wait until the end to announce the retailer’s name. Start off with an unusual story or absurd humor which dramatizes the category of retailer and hooks the ad’s viewer or listener into thinking “Who’s this commercial for, anyway?”
     Mystery ads were significantly more effective than traditional ads in strengthening the name-category link. If you use mystery ads, people who afterwards start to yearn for categories the ads say your store carries will think about your store as the place to get those categories.
     However, don’t forget to boldly announce your store name at the end. Advertising pioneer David Ogilvy said, “Use the name within the first ten seconds.” Mystery ads respect that advice, then modify it to become, “Drill in the name within the last five seconds.”
     Similarly, don’t push too far the effect of the incomplete package design. We usually want the packages we stock on our store shelves to project an unambiguous sales message. For instance, when purchasing a product associated with extra calories, shoppers prefer an hourglass shape to short and squat.

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