Many people think that while promotion can be effective in getting people to try a brand, once a purchase is made it is only the intrinsic qualities of the product that matter. Therefore as technology enables consumers, broadcasting brand messages is increasingly a waste of time and money.
Recent research, however, debunks this notion. Marketing actions like brand promotions and discounting can actually affect how consumers experience products. Moreover, follow-up fMRI studies show that this is a verifiable physiological process that we can see working inside our brains.
The Placebo Effect in Marketing
Aseries of studies at Stanford University aimed to see if the placebo effect long familiar in medical circles also held for marketing actions. In other words, they sought to find out if what consumers were told about a product would influence its effectiveness.
In the first set of studies, they gave an energy drink to people before their workout. The researchers told one group that they got the product at the regular price and told a second group that it was purchased at a heavily discounted rate. The first group reported great workouts while the group that thought the product wasdiscountedgot less satisfaction.
In follow-up studies, done by the same research team, participants were given a drink designed to aid concentration and then given puzzles to solve. Again, they tested the effect of price promotions, but they also added some marketing literature to the study. They found while price promotions decreased performance, brand promotion increased it.