For most consumers, choice becomes difficult because of the number of options, the similarity between products, and the over-stimulation of the senses. When we sense that a deal could be too good to be true, we often hold off to the point that we end up with a deal worse than what we could have received.
If the way consumers receive information causes over-stimulation, should consumers clamor for simpler methods?
A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research believes they should.
The study got groups to look at products in two different ways — one in black and white, and the other in full color. The results showed that consumers were able to hone in on basic features much more easily when looking at them in black and white, while focusing on the "pop" features when looking at them in color.
At face value, it makes sense. When we have nothing visually stimulating to distract us, like color, we would naturally focus on the main things at hand. We are sure that the same results would be replicated if participants watched a commercial with sound versus one without. The main point of the study shows that there are certain variables in advertising that can influence the consumer to make a choice. Whether or not the consumer intentionally chooses the product based on that variable is a different story. We could determine that Consumer A likes the color red and chooses several red products. But if we ask Consumer A what the driving point was to choose those products, and they say quality, now we have an interesting study.
Does this prove that advertising is intentionally misleading? Not by any means. It does show that consumers need additional assistance in figuring out the key points in certain messages. What exactly are the features of the product or service that actually matter? How does the product benefit the consumer? These are the points we should be mentioning in our messages. Once the facts are covered, then we can "glam" it up.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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