Oilless Deep Fryers That Are Not Actually Deep Fryers: The Psychology Behind Selling Us Something New As Something Known
The market and technology are constantly changing and every day we have new products for sale that offer us things never seen before. And yet, every time we see more new things defined with names that remind us of other things more than known. Have you ever wondered, for example, “why do they call this an oil-free fryer when it’s not really a deep fryer”? And, once you know them, you see that they are rather small ovens that work like a grill causing hot air to circulate at high speed.
And this is not the only example that we can think of. In recent years, for example, vegetable meat burgers have become fashionable, which, of course, is not meat. Or vegan cheeses that are not cheeses. It also happens with plant milks – although legally they must be called “plant drinks” – among other products. Why is this happening? Why not give it a new name and make us believe that it is something we already know?
Something that has been known for a long time is that for us, as users, to be interested in a product or service, we need to be motivated to use or consume. And this motivation is not based only on the merely material, but also on the fact that this product satisfies a need. That is why the purpose is to motivate potential customers and hence the use of familiar names in new products has a logic behind this that psychology can explain to us.
The new is exciting; the known is safe
Logic would tell us that we should be immediately attracted to new things. And, in part, it’s true. In general, we tend to pay more attention to stimuli than novelty than to familiar ones. Research by the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London found that novel objects activate our brain’s reward system.
Other research points to the influence that the placebo effect has on us. This is the case of an investigation carried out by the University of New York in 2015. What they found, basically, is that we like new things by the anticipation we make of them. If we have not tried them and we assume that we will like them, we are more predisposed to enjoy it when we try it. We basically influenced our experimentation with that new object through a placebo effect. The problem is, the thrill of novelty doesn’t last long, according to University College London research.
The familiar and familiar makes us feel comfortable and safe
The point is, most research finds that while new is attractive, what we really like is what we already know. And this occurs in all aspects of our life. For example, we like people with features that are familiar or similar to our own. It also happens with music: the more we listen to a type of music, the more we like it, according to research such as Mungan in 2019 or Madison and his team in 2017.
As the well-known psychologist Frank W. Schneider explained in his book Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems In 2012, familiarity with both things and people is positive and reassuring for most of us. Not only that, but it favors attraction.
Maybe we ever heard talk endowment effect or “endowment effect”. It refers, basically, to the fact that we like more objects that we already know previously, that are ours or that we can feel as our own or relate them to something we possess. Basically it is because we have a link with them and hence the extreme defenses that can be made of some products and brands. Of course, this is not new and marketing departments know it.
The mere exposure effect and how it influences us
And this is where the importance of introducing new things into the lives of consumers comes in, that are attractive, but without taking them too far from what they already know and appreciate. How to do that? The mere exposure effect, which also influences us when we play video games, has something to say about it and explains many of the marketing strategies carried out.
This effect confirms the above: we like what is familiar to us. But it is more than that, it is that the simple repeated exposure to something or someone increases the possibility that it attracts us before even knowing it well. That is to say, the more we see it (and recognize it), the more we like it. Why is this important and what does it have to do with products that carry a familiar name even though they are something totally new?
Well, they are the representation of the effect of mere exposure. And it is the perfect way to combine the exciting of the new, with the security and the attractiveness of what we already know. The nuance of the mere exposure effect is that we are attracted to things that we are heavily exposed to – the familiar and recognizable name – but which we still haven’t really got to know – the completely new object -.
A study by Norton points out that what would really appeal to us would be the ambiguity generated by the mere exposure effect. This middle way between not really knowing the product or the person, but attributing positive or pleasant qualities to it because it is familiar to us or reminds us of something that we value and know.
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