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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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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.”