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Can the average consumer tell the difference between two identical products when they have dissimilar labels? Do restaurant enthusiasts order more food when the descriptive menu language is more detailed? Are consumers suckers for marketing trickery?


As marketers, our job is to influence market behaviors. Our success depends on our ability to sell products and/or services or socially change attitudes. We've done such a good job at it, that many consumers are duped into thinking certain ways.
Last week on the Today Show, Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of "Mindless Eating – Why We Eat More Than We Think," displayed two identical bottles of wine - one with a label indicating it came from North Dakota, and the other from California. (In case you live outside the U.S., North Dakota isn't known for its wine, but California is.) In taste tests, he said, consumers drank more of the California wine and said they liked it better.
Dr. Wansink then showed two identical plates of restaurant food with two different menu descriptions. Tests showed that people bought more, and enjoyed the taste better, of the plate associated with a more descriptive menu (Menu B).
Menu A
Red beans with rice
Seafood fillet
Grilled chicken
Chocolate pudding
Menu B
Traditional Cajun beans with rice
Succulent Italian seafood fillet
Tender grilled chicken
Satin chocolate pudding
Although this research was conducted to change America's eating habits, it's also indicative of what good marketing can do to influence consumer habits overall.
A couple of months ago, I remember a similar TV taste test demonstration with assorted vodka brands. Consumers who indicated that they could tell the difference between their preferred vodka (the more expensive, well-known brand) and lower-end, less expensive brands, failed miserably when taste testing Cosmopolitans using a variety of vodka brands.
Now this isn't rocket science to marketers. We're familiar with the power of marketing and good copywriting. But what does it say about the consumer market? Are many of us tricked into thinking one product is better than another, or one service supplier superior in quality based solely on descriptive words and engaging images?
Whether we believe in what we market or not, is marketing simply a form of trickery and behavior manipulatation?
What do YOU think?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Elaine Fogel

Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel