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Cut the Hype. (Some).

September 24, 2008  

As demonstrated in past issues, consumers often make choices based on their feelings. We also know that their decisions about what to buy may be based on how they think a given product will make them feel. Simple formula: promote it with a positive hype, and they'll love it. Right? Not so fast. Now comes research that says we may actually be poor predictors of our future feelings.

Researchers have identified a gap—called an "affective misforecasting gap"—between our predicted and actual emotions. Does this gap affect how satisfied we are with the products we buy?

Indeed it does, these researchers say, but with one important caveat: the "gap" only has an effect when we feel worse than expected about a product, not when we feel better.

For example, if a consumer buys a comedy DVD expecting to be amused by it, and she actually feels it is hysterically funny, she still may not judge it any more positively than she had expected. However, if it makes her feel only mildly amused, she might actually judge it negatively. Wow.

The message for marketers here? Don't over-promise on how good a product will make your customers feel. If they expect to feel great and just feel good, they might actually be dissatisfied with it.


The Po!nt: Promote with care. A super-positive promise could actually backfire on you, when feelings are involved.

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