Highlights - August 2017

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Sensory impressions embedded in advertising influence consumer behavior in many ways.  For instance, the “snap, crackle and pop” of Rice Krispies makes us want to buy the cereal and eat it.  But as savvy as marketers are, new research finds that they frequently miss a key ingredient in their campaigns.

A study led by marketing professors at Brigham Young University and the University of Washington finds that the type of sensory experience an advertisement conjures up in our mind has a fascinating effect on when we make purchases.

Specifically, advertisements highlighting sight and sound lead people to delay purchasing, while highlighting more touch and taste lead to earlier purchases.

Advertisers are increasingly aware of the influence sensory cues can play.  The new research dives into which specific sensory experiences will be most effective in an advertisement, and why.

For the research, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the team carried out four lab studies and a pilot study involving more than 1,100 study subjects. Time and time again, their experiments found that people caught up in the taste or touch of a product or event were more likely to be interested in buying at an earlier time.

In one experiment, subjects read one of two reviews for a fictional restaurant:  One focused on taste and touch, the other emphasized sound and vision.  Participants were then asked to make a reservation at the restaurant on a six-month interactive calendar.  Those who read the review focusing on the more proximal senses (taste and touch) were significantly more likely to make a reservation closer to the present date.

In another experiment, study subjects read ad copy for a summer festival taking place either this weekend or next year.  Two versions of the ad copy existed: one emphasizing taste.  When subjects were asked when they would like to attend, those who read the ad copy about taste had a higher interest in attending a festival this weekend.  Those who read ads emphasizing sounds were more likely to have interest in attending the festival next year.

What are the implications for advertisers?  If an advertised event is coming up soon, it would be better to highlight the taste...

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