The Situationist

The Situation of Repackaging

Posted by The Situationist Staff on July 3, 2008

New Story!!!

From SpeakupOver on Scientific American, Nikhil Swaminathan has an interesting post on a new study concerning the psychology of repackaging.

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Scientists have discovered that novel objects perk up the reward system of our brains, indicating our sense of adventure—exploring or learning something new—may be just as tempting as cash and other prizes in the choices we make. Researchers say the finding may explain why marketers are able to bolster sagging sales by simply repackaging old products.

Brain processes “might encourage you to sample [products previously dismissed] again—even though it doesn’t make much sense,” says Bianca Wittmann, a neuroscientist at University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and co-author of the study published today in the journal Neuron. “Just because it has new packaging doesn’t mean it has gotten much better.”

But Baba Shiv, a professor of marketing at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, warns marketers to beware of trying to dupe consumers. Although novelty may temporarily boost sales, he says, they will likely slump again once customers realize nothing but the packaging has changed.

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To read the entire post, click here. Image from Speakup.

For related Situationist posts, see “The Unseen Behavioral Influence of Company Logos,” “The Situation of Perceptions,” “The Big Game: What Corporations Are Learning About the Human Brain,” “The (Unconscious) Situation of our Consciousness – Part III,” “Why You Bought That,” and “McDonalds tastes better than McDonalds, if it’s packaged right.”

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2 Responses to “The Situation of Repackaging”

  1. Maya, CVT said

    Interesting, especially considering the other side of the coin: sometimes companies will change labels when they have changed the contents of the product. For example, after the pet food scare I began to scrutinize the food (Wellness) that I was feeding my cats. When I noticed a label change, I immediately checked the ingredient list and discovered that they had in fact added contents to which my cat was allergic. Years before, Hill’s Science Diet had added some nasty byproducts and “meal” to their products, coinciding with a label change.

    Sometimes we forget that the general public is in fact becoming much more science saavy. In the 1970′s and 1980′s, only doctors used words like “antioxidants” or “liposuction”. Hopefully word will get out to people that the label is just an advertisement, and that the label on the back is legally required to give the factual information on contents (thus the recent comedian jokes about content labels on the back of water bottles, which informatively say “Calories: 0″).

  2. I knew there was a reason I started liking Sprite more once they switched the cans!

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