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Consumers Spend Double When Encouraged To Save
From the “Gee That’s Odd” file...Consumers are so eager to resist marketing persuasion, that they often act contrary to marketing messages, even when it is not in their best interest. For instance, shoppers will spend more money when they see a brand name accompanied by a tagline about saving money, than when they just see the brand.

Americans’ subconscious drive to avoid being influenced by marketing produces dramatic shifts in behavior. Research subjects spent nearly twice as much money at Wal-Mart when they were exposed to the logo and, “Save Money, Live Better,” than when they saw the brand without the slogan.

Researchers found that the more consumers feel that brand tactics are trying to persuade them, they more likely they are to act contrarily. Shoppers do not believe logos are designed to influence them, so they behave as expected when they encounter the graphics. Consumers focus on saving after seeing the Wal-Mart logo, are predisposed to spend when exposed to a luxury brand name, and feel more creative after looking at the Apple logo.

These findings, which will be published in the Journal of Consumer Research, raise some intriguing questions about how marketers can influence consumers using reverse psychology.

We should think about...
  • What are the implications for our business if consumers subconsciously do the exact opposite of our brand tagline and marketing messages?
  • Should we consider using reverse psychology in our marketing efforts?
Sources: Journal of Consumer Research 2011
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