1. Smokers 20 percent more likely to quit when cigarettes cost $1 more

    September 3, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Drexel University press release:

    Older smokers are usually more set in their ways, but a dollar increase in cigarette prices makes them 20 percent more likely to quit, a new Drexel University study found.

    The study, published in Epidemiology, used 10 years of neighborhood-level price data to determine how it affected nearby smokers, focusing on those who skewed older.

    Older adult smokers have been smoking for a long time and tend to have lower rates of smoking cessation compared to younger populations, suggesting deeply entrenched behavior that is difficult to change,” said Stephanie Mayne, PhD, the lead author of the study who is a former doctoral student at Drexel and now a fellow at Northwestern. “Our finding that increases in cigarette prices were associated with quitting smoking in the older population suggests that cigarette taxes may be a particularly effective lever for behavior change.”

    Taking a look at the local relationship between smoking habits and cigarette prices is an understudied but important area to look at, according to the senior author on the study, Amy Auchincloss, PhD, associate professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health.

    “Results on this topic primarily have come from population surveillance,” she said. “But we had neighborhood tobacco price data and could link that to a cohort of individuals who were followed for about 10 years.”

    Smoking cessation remains an important focus of public health efforts since it remains the largest preventable cause of death and disease in not just the United States, but the world.

    The cohort Mayne and Auchincloss looked at included smokers ranging in age from 44 to 84 and stretched across six different places, including the Bronx, Chicago, and the county containing Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Data were taken from the study population between 2002 and 2012 as a part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Artherosclerosis (MESA).

    In addition to finding that current smokers were 20 percent more likely to quit smoking when pack prices went up by a dollar, Mayne and Auchincloss’ team showed that there was a 3 percent overall reduction in smoking risk.

    However, when the data was narrowed to heavy smokers (defined as smoking more than half a pack a day), there was a 7 percent reduction in risk. When prices increased by a dollar, heavy smokers also showed a 35 percent reduction in the average number of cigarettes they smoked per day, compared to 19 percent less in the overall smoking population.

    “Since heavy smokers smoke more cigarettes per day initially, they may feel the impact of a price increase to a greater degree and be more likely to cut back on the number of cigarettes they smoke on a daily basis,” Mayne said.

    While the data focused on a population older than 44, Mayne believes the price effect may be “similar or possibly stronger in a younger population.”

    “Some research suggests younger adults may be more price-sensitive than older adults,” she pointed out.

    Something she found, though, was that smoking bans in bars and restaurants did not appear to have any effect on smoking behavior in the study population. Although more research is likely necessary to see why that is and whether it’s true — Mayne will soon publish a study devoted to that — one possible explanation is that the economic pressures of a cigarette price increase provide a stronger incentive to quit than placing limits on smoking in public places.

    Mark Stehr, PhD, an associate professor in Drexel’s School of Economics who also served as a co-author on the study, also had a thought on the bans’ effect.

    “A ban may be circumvented by going outside or staying home, whereas avoiding a price increase might take more effort,” he pointed out.

    Based on results from this study, raising cigarette prices appears to be a better strategy for encouraging smoking cessation across all ages.

    “More consistent tax policy across the United States might help encourage more older adults to quit smoking,” Mayne said.

    “Given our findings, if an additional one dollar was added to the U.S. tobacco tax, it could amount to upwards of one million fewer smokers,” Auchincloss said. “Short of federal taxes, raising state and local taxes and creating minimum price thresholds for tobacco should be essential components of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy — particularly in places with high tobacco prevalence.


  2. Consumers more likely to spend money on guilty pleasures with touchscreen technology

    August 29, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus press release:

    You are more likely to indulge in guilty pleasures when shopping online with a touchscreen versus a desktop computer, according to research from UBC’s Okanagan campus.

    Studies conducted by Faculty of Management assistant professor Ying Zhu are shedding new light into consumer behaviour when it comes to touchscreen technology, a rapidly increasing sales technology.

    “Touchscreen technology has rapidly penetrated the consumer market and embedded itself into our daily lives. Given its fast growth and popularity, we know surprisingly little about its effect on consumers,” explains Zhu. “With more than two billion smartphone users, the use of tactile technologies for online shopping alone is set to represent nearly half of all e-commerce by next year.”

    To extend our knowledge on the touchscreen, Zhu and her co-author, Jeffrey Meyer, conducted a series of experiments with university students to measure thinking styles and purchase intentions using devices like touchscreens and desktop computers.

    The study aimed to investigate whether online purchase intentions change when it comes to two different types of products: hedonic, or those that give the consumer pleasure like chocolate or massages; and utilitarian, products that are practical, like bread or printers.

    “The playful and fun nature of the touchscreen enhances consumers’ favour of hedonic products; while the logical and functional nature of a desktop endorses the consumers’ preference for utilitarian products,” explains Zhu.

    Zhu’s study also found that participants using touchscreen technology scored significantly higher on experiential thinking than those using desktop computers. However, those on desktops scored significantly higher on rational thinking.

    “Overall, what we learned is that using a touchscreen evokes consumers’ experiential thinking, which resonates with the playful nature of hedonic products. These results may well be a game-changer for sectors like the retail industry,” says Zhu. “But my advice for consumers who want to save a bit of money is to put away the smartphone when you have urge to spend on a guilty pleasure.”


  3. How taste and sound affect when you buy

    August 21, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Brigham Young University press release:

    There’s a reason marketers make appeals to our senses; the “snap, crackle and pop” of Rice Krispies makes us want to buy the cereal and eat it. But as savvy as marketers are, they may be missing a key ingredient in their campaigns.

    New research finds the type of sensory experience an advertisement conjures up in our mind — taste and touch vs. sight and sound — has a fascinating effect on when we make purchases.

    The study led by marketing professors at Brigham Young University and the University of Washington finds that advertisements highlighting more distal sensory experiences (sight/sound) lead people to delay purchasing, while highlighting more proximal sensory experiences (touch/taste) lead to earlier purchases.

    “Advertisers are increasingly aware of the influence sensory cues can play,” said lead author Ryan Elder, associate professor of marketing at BYU. “Our research dives into which specific sensory experiences will be most effective in an advertisement, and why.”

    Elder, with fellow lead author Ann Schlosser, a professor of marketing at the University of Washington, Morgan Poor, assistant professor of marketing at San Diego State University, and Lidan Xu, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, carried out four lab studies and a pilot study involving more than 1,100 study subjects for the research, published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

    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 at an earlier time.

    In one experiment, subjects read one of two reviews for a fictional restaurant: One focused on taste/touch, the other emphasized sound/vision. Participants were then asked to make a reservation to 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 (“You will taste the amazing flavors…”) and one emphasizing sound (“You will listen to the amazing sounds…”).

    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.

    If an advertised event is coming up soon, it would be better to highlight the more proximal senses of taste or touch — such as the food served at the event — than the more distal senses of sound and sight,” Schlosser said. “This finding has important implications for marketers, especially those of products that are multi-sensory.”

    As part of the study, researchers also learned an interesting insight into making restaurant reviews more helpful. In their field study, the authors analyzed 31,889 Yelp reviews to see if they could find connections between the sensory elements of a reviewer’s experience and the usefulness of a review.

    They found reviews from people who emphasized a more distal sense (such as sight) were rated more useful when the review used the past tense (“We ate here last week and…”), while people emphasizing a proximal sense (touch) had more useful reviews when they used the present tense (“I’m eating this right now and it is so good!”).

    “Sensory marketing is increasingly important in today’s competitive landscape. Our research suggests new ways for marketers to differentiate their products and service, and ultimately influence consumer behavior,” Elder said. “Marketers need to pay closer attention to which sensory experiences, both imagined and actual, are being used.”


  4. Study suggests managers often overestimate customer satisfaction

    by Ashley

    From the Indiana University press release:

    Despite the millions companies spend to gather information about customer satisfaction, senior managers often fail to understand those customers’ expectations.

    Neil A. Morgan, professor and PetSmart Distinguished Chair of Marketing at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, and four co-authors of a recent journal article present a huge disconnect between managers and customers in terms of understanding what drives customer satisfaction and loyalty.

    The researchers used data from 70,000 American Customer Satisfaction Index surveys and compared it with responses to the same questions posed to 1,068 marketing managers and those in customer-facing roles at the American Customer Satisfaction Index-measured companies, predominately Fortune 500 firms.

    Their results show that managers in a wide cross-section of industries often overestimate their customers’ satisfaction. This leads them to rely on unrealistic expectations when making marketing decisions and allocating resources to address marketplace issues.

    “Clearly there’s been a communication breakdown,” Morgan said. “Either the messages aren’t being disseminated, or they aren’t being understood within organizations. Otherwise, managers would have a better understanding of both the level and drivers of dissatisfaction among customers.

    “That means that there are customer satisfaction problems that are not being solved, because managers don’t know or don’t believe that they exist,” he added. “Even if they did, they try fixing the wrong things.”

    The paper, “Do Managers Know What Their Customers Think and Why,” appears in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.

    Most of the large consumer-focused firms in the study sample have customer-satisfaction monitoring and feedback systems in place and invest heavily in them. Morgan believes that managers aren’t being exposed to the customer feedback data or they aren’t understanding it accurately.

    “These overly optimistic managers are likely to miss trouble signs when they appear,” the researchers wrote. “This is compounded by managers significantly underestimating the proportion of customers who have complained about the firm’s products or services in the recent past.

    Inaccurate understanding of what drives customers’ perceptions of products and services hampers a company’s ability to react to an issue. Even when managers recognize a need to improve customers’ perceptions, they may fail to do so in a way that leads to the desired outcomes.

    For example, the survey results indicate that managers are more likely to underinvest in raising customer quality perceptions as a way to enhance customer satisfaction.

    “Our findings may also provide an explanation for overemphasis on cost-cutting and efficiency observed in firms’ strategies relative to that on quality improvements or achieving differentiation,” the study said. “Where managers overestimate their own customer perception of the firm’s performance, cutbacks that undermine the quality of service, for example, may seem less dangerous than they really are.”

    “There seems to be a belief in lots of companies — and it’s kind of an urban myth — that most people who are unhappy won’t complain,” Morgan added. “Therefore, the complaints that you get are not representative of the level of satisfaction that exists among general customers. This data suggests that they shouldn’t be treating complaints as something different. They should be used as part of an overall customer feedback system.”

    Customer satisfaction is a significant factor on the bottom line, and previous studies have found that customer complaints impact stock returns.

    “For managers, the results of our study should serve as a wake-up call that all is not well with most firms’ customer satisfaction and complaint monitoring systems,” the researchers wrote. “Despite often being the single biggest line-item of most firms’ market research expenditures, existing customer feedback systems are not performing an effective management control role.”


  5. Study shows how weather impacts response to mobile ads

    August 10, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences press release:

    Among the many factors that impact digital marketing and online advertising strategy, a new study in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science provides insight to a growing trend among firms and big brands … weather-based advertising. According to the study, certain weather conditions are more amenable for consumer responses to mobile marketing efforts, while the tone of your ad content can either help or hurt such response depending on the current local weather.

    As mobile users may have already noticed, many major brands — including Burberry, Ace Hardware, Taco Bell, Delta Airlines, and Farmers Insurance — are currently leveraging weather-based promotions. Indeed, more than 200 others have partnered with the Weather Channel Company for targeted advertising and promotions.

    The study, “Sunny, Rainy, and Cloudy with a Chance of Mobile Promotion Effectiveness,” was conducted by Chenxi Li of Beihang University, Xueming Luo of Temple University, Cheng Zhang of Fudan University, and Xiaoyi Wang of Zhejiang University. The authors examined field experiment datasets with mobile platforms (SMS and APP) on two digital products (video-streaming and e-book reading) on over six million mobile users in 344 cities across China. They simultaneously tracked weather conditions at both daily and hourly rates across these cities, with a focus on sunny, cloudy and rainy weather.

    The authors found that overall, consumer response to mobile promotions was 1.2 times higher and occurred 73 percent faster in sunny weather than in cloudy weather. However, during raining conditions, that response was .9 times lower and 59 percent slower than during cloudy weather. Better-than-yesterday weather and better-than-forecast weather engender more purchase responses. A good deviation from the expected rainy or cloudy weather with relatively rare events of sunshine significantly boosts purchase responses to mobile promotions. In addition, compared with a neutral tone, the negative tone of prevention ad content hurts the initial promotion boost induced by sunshine, but improves the initial promotion drop induced by rainfall. The authors also ruled out the possibility that the results could arise purely because of different mobile usage behaviors during different weather conditions. Their results also took into account the effects of individual locations, temperature, humidity, visibility, air pressure, dew point, wind, and time of day.

    “Obviously, although brand managers cannot control the mother-nature weather, our findings are non-trivial because they suggest that brands can leverage the relevant, local weather information in mobile promotions. Firms should use the prevention-tone ad copy on rainy days and the simple neutral-tone ad copy on sunny days to attain greater bang for the buck,” said Li.

    “Given that consumers nowadays are inundated with and annoyed by irrelevant ads on their personal mobile devices and small screens, for marketers, these findings imply new opportunities of customer data analytics for more effective weather-based mobile targeting,” Luo added.


  6. Study suggests marketing strategies for offline retailers

    August 8, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Journal of Retailing at New York University press release:

    For retailers, the era of the online marketplace brings previously unimaginable opportunity and risk: on one hand, the universe of customers has expanded exponentially, and with it the amount of information available on individuals’ buying patterns. The risk so far has fallen disproportionately on retailers who lack on online presence, as the e-commerce share of US retail nearly doubled in the past five years. New research to be published in the September 2017 issue of the Journal of Retailing shows that savvy offline retailers can use data gleaned from online retail to boost their own sales.

    In “Product Touch and Consumers’ Online and Offline Buying: The Role of Mental Representation,” Wumei Liu, of Lanzhou University’s School of Management, Rajeev Batra of the Ross School of Business at University of Michigan, and Haizhong Wang of Sun Yat-Sen University’s School of Business showed that the effect of being able to touch a product on consumers’ purchase intention and willingness to pay for a product depends on the individual’s mindset: that is, does this person think concretely or abstractly? For concrete thinkers, product touch is important; for abstract thinkers, not so much. The offline retailer who can mine the wealth of consumer research data available through the internet to pinpoint these concrete thinkers, the authors suggest, can target them with appropriate marketing strategies.

    The authors designed three studies to determine how people’s mental representations of the products they are evaluating for purchase affects their purchase decisions. Some individuals, they surmised, have a tendency and ability to think abstractly while others respond more to concrete stimuli, and the latter would value more the opportunity to physically examine a product before buying it. One study, for example, primed participants to think abstractly in one condition and concretely in another. In each condition, they were then asked to decide about buying a mug that was placed in a transparent plastic box; some participants could handle the mug while others could not. When concrete representation was primed, participants’ willingness to buy the mug increased when they could touch it, but when abstract representation was primed, the effect of touch was insignificant. A second study confirmed this effect and showed it was mediated by perceived ownership and perceived risk simultaneously. A third study with a nationally representative sample was able to replicate the results of the first two studies.

    The implications for offline retailers, the authors write, suggest that they should try to identify consumers who value touch and that this information is easily available through syndicated psychographic data on consumers. With such segmentation, for example, retailers could offer free trials to these consumers. But online retailers can also benefit, by promoting an abstract mindset, such as consumers’ passion and love for life, in their marketing and merchandising.


  7. Why surveiling shoppers can inhibit sales, and how to fix it

    August 4, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Journal of Retailing at New York University press release:

    No shopper likes being watched closely, especially if they’re buying an item they find very personal and potentially embarrassing — for instance, foot fungus cream or hemorrhoid cream. Three marketing professors recently conducted research on this phenomenon and concluded that the problem is real and is relatively easy for retailers to address.

    In “I’ll Be Watching You: Shoppers’ Reactions to Perceptions of Being Watched by Employees,” Carol L. Esmark and Michael J. Breazeale of Mississippi State University and Stephanie M. Noble of the University of Tennessee attribute the reluctance of shoppers to make a sensitive purchase under watchful eyes to reactance theory, which explains that when shoppers feel that their privacy or freedom of behavior is threatened, they will back off, either permanently or temporarily. Retailers must balance their need to control shoplifting with their customers’ need for privacy. The article is forthcoming in the September issue of the Journal of Retailing.

    The authors designed a series of studies and field experiments that tested shoppers’ reaction to being watched while shopping for foot fungal cream and hemorrhoid cream. A researcher dressed as a retail employee purposely made eye contact — or not — as customers were surveying the shelves for these items. When eye contact was made, almost two thirds of the customers abandoned the purchase; when it was not made, nearly three quarters completed the buy.

    In further studies, the authors tested solutions that would ease customers’ concerns over privacy and yet be easy to implement for retailers — for instance, providing a shopping basket or opaque bag to hide the embarrassing selection. Based on their observations, the authors concluded that retailers who were able to provide shoppers with at least some privacy — even a shopping basket — could circumvent shoppers’ perceptions of being watched and made so uncomfortable that they walked away empty-handed.


  8. Are sugary drink interventions changing people’s behavior?

    by Ashley

    From the University of Leeds press release:

    An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people’s habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

    Nutritionists at the University of Leeds have carried out the first comprehensive review of interventions to reduce sugary drinks consumption. The team analysed 40 studies with 16,500 participants across three age groups: children, teenagers and adults.

    Their study, published in the Obesity Reviews journal, found that children participating in these programmes reduced their sugary drink intake by around 30%, removing nearly 2.5 teaspoons of sugar from a child’s average intake of 16 teaspoons per day.

    Interventions aimed at teenagers saw sugary drink consumption reduced by nearly 10%. However, there was almost no measureable change in adults participating in these programmes.

    The evaluation highlighted some of the successful behavioural change techniques used, but warned that to achieve significant change in sugary drink consumption additional measures are needed.

    First author, Elisa Vargas-Garcia from the School of Food Science and Nutrition, said: “On average sugar intake is two to three times higher than recommended across all age groups. We evaluated these programmes to see if they were causing real changes in behaviour.

    “School is a common place to target obesity-related behaviour. However, in the programmes aimed at younger populations we found that the interventions that took place in the home were actually more effective.”

    Lead author Professor Janet Cade, Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology and Public Health at Leeds, said: “But while the children and teenage programmes can claim some success, the lack of effectiveness in interventions for adults is worrying. Interventions alone cannot be relied upon to affect sugary drink behaviours.

    Scientists, public health officials and policy makers need to work together to establish the best courses of action, from increasing the availability of water in and around schools to introducing the levy on sugary drinks companies.”

    The only intervention component associated with significant results was when there was a role model to demonstrate ‘good’ behaviour towards sugary drinks. In these cases programme participants are able to model someone they like or admire, such as parents, causing a change in behaviour.

    The programmes aimed at children and teenagers typically incorporated a number of different components including group-led or class-based sessions that taught about the negative health consequences of drinking too many sugary drinks and targeting unhealthy diet behaviours and promoting water as a drink alternative.

    Some of the programmes included parental support and worked to change the environment by adding water fountains and filters at schools.

    The programmes aimed at adults also included nutritional advice sessions to help better understand food labels and how to choose healthier drinks. Several of the adult programmes including setting and monitoring personal goals such as making pledges to drink fewer fizzy drinks.

    Co-author Dr Charlotte Evans, also from the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds said “It’s estimated that children and adults get about a quarter of their sugar from sugary drinks and these drinks are linked with health risks such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.

    “This systematic review is one of many actions needed to plan and implement the best methods to change behaviours and attitudes towards sugary drinks. We also need action to improve the wider environment by making sugary drinks more expensive, less available and less desirable through taxation, reformulation and reduced marketing.”

    There are currently a number of public health initiatives to reduce sugary drink consumption. Some of these include campaigns to increase public awareness about the sugar content and the consequences of heavy consumption as well as restricting the availability of sugary drinks and promoting water as an alternative.

    The government is also planning on introducing a levy on companies producing sugary drinks starting in April 2018 where drinks with more than 5g of sugars per litre will be taxed. This is encouraging companies to reformulate their drinks so they contain less than 5% sugar.


  9. Study assesses effectiveness of loss-leader strategy

    July 30, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Journal of Retailing at New York University:

    Deep discounting by retailers, accompanied by a blitz of promotions, is a long-established and well-accepted strategy for boosting brand and category sales. But relatively few studies have analyzed store-level data in an effort to compile systematic empirical evidence on the impact of deep discounting on such store performance metrics as traffic, sales, and profits. New research delves into the numbers to find out if the received wisdom is justified.

    In “An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Promotional Discounts on Store Performance,” Dinesh K. Gauri, a marketing professor at the University of Arkansas’s Walton College of Business, and co-authors Brian Ratchford, Joseph Pancras, and Debabrata Talukdar gathered data from 24 branches of a grocery chain in the Northeastern US over 49 weeks. Their analysis of several different metrics, to be published in the September 2017 issue of the Journal of Retailing, showed that that deep discounting is a valid strategy supported by the numbers, with the caveat that broad discounting in a category may lead to diminishing returns.

    For each week in each of the two dozen stores, the authors compiled data on overall traffic, sales per transaction, and margin, for a total of 13,815 transactions, with a mean value of $15.44 and margin of 23.6 percent. They looked at the impact of loss leader strategies, including promotional expenditures, on penetration and frequency, impulse buying, stockpiling, and store brands. Besides confirming the legitimacy of the strategy in general, they unearthed insights that could help shape retailing strategy.

    Among the findings that can give retailers an edge: the data showed that discounts on high-penetration, high-frequency items — staples such as meat and produce — and low-penetration, low-frequency items — fill-ins, like beer and spreads — led to increased traffic but lower sales per transaction, suggesting that these features tend to attract small-ticket customers. However, discounts in these categories were associated with higher margins, especially with the low-penetration, low-frequency category, suggesting that the smaller transactions generated by the discounts tend to contain an above-average number of high-margin items in addition to the discounted items — a result driven mainly by beer, which was featured almost every week.


  10. Now or later: How taste and sound affect when you buy

    July 16, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Brigham Young University press release:

    There’s a reason marketers make appeals to our senses; the “snap, crackle and pop” of Rice Krispies makes us want to buy the cereal and eat it. But as savvy as marketers are, they may be missing a key ingredient in their campaigns.

    New research finds the type of sensory experience an advertisement conjures up in our mind — taste and touch vs. sight and sound — has a fascinating effect on when we make purchases.

    The study led by marketing professors at Brigham Young University and the University of Washington finds that advertisements highlighting more distal sensory experiences (sight/sound) lead people to delay purchasing, while highlighting more proximal sensory experiences (touch/taste) lead to earlier purchases.

    “Advertisers are increasingly aware of the influence sensory cues can play,” said lead author Ryan Elder, associate professor of marketing at BYU. “Our research dives into which specific sensory experiences will be most effective in an advertisement, and why.”

    Elder, with fellow lead author Ann Schlosser, a professor of marketing at the University of Washington, Morgan Poor, assistant professor of marketing at San Diego State University, and Lidan Xu, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, carried out four lab studies and a pilot study involving more than 1,100 study subjects for the research, published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

    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 at an earlier time.

    In one experiment, subjects read one of two reviews for a fictional restaurant: One focused on taste/touch, the other emphasized sound/vision. Participants were then asked to make a reservation to 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 (“You will taste the amazing flavors…”) and one emphasizing sound (“You will listen to the amazing sounds…”).

    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.

    If an advertised event is coming up soon, it would be better to highlight the more proximal senses of taste or touch — such as the food served at the event — than the more distal senses of sound and sight,” Schlosser said. “This finding has important implications for marketers, especially those of products that are multi-sensory.”

    As part of the study, researchers also learned an interesting insight into making restaurant reviews more helpful. In their field study, the authors analyzed 31,889 Yelp reviews to see if they could find connections between the sensory elements of a reviewer’s experience and the usefulness of a review.

    They found reviews from people who emphasized a more distal sense (such as sight) were rated more useful when the review used the past tense (“We ate here last week and…”), while people emphasizing a proximal sense (touch) had more useful reviews when they used the present tense (“I’m eating this right now and it is so good!”).

    “Sensory marketing is increasingly important in today’s competitive landscape. Our research suggests new ways for marketers to differentiate their products and service, and ultimately influence consumer behavior,” Elder said. “Marketers need to pay closer attention to which sensory experiences, both imagined and actual, are being used.”