So what am I going to talk about? Something to do with consumer psychology, I hope. Maybe we could start off thinking of the many different shampoos we could choose from. I took the liberty of entering “shampoo” into a supermarket’s search engine.
In a website of a supermarket called Tesco
I found 138 different shampoos in one store, excluding those shampoo and conditioner combo-bottles and whatnot. I feel that is a lot of choice. Moreover, everyday, millions of people have thousands of advertisements parading for them each (Wright, Khanfar, Harrington & Kizer, 2010). Meanwhile, most humans can only notice and process so much (Serences, 2011), and recall only so much of what they had noticed (Sara & Hars, 2006). In conclusion, there is a need to make products, adverts, whatever you want to stand out, to hypothetically grab people’s brains to stare at your product and brand and hopefully in a good way (Faircloth, Capella & Alford, 2001; Pieters, Warlop & Wedel, 2002). The effect of being a penguin in the haystack with that needle within the metaphorical world is the von Restorff effect (Bireta, Surprenant & Neath, 2008).
One proposed attention capture device is absurdity (Arias-Bolzmann, Chakraborty & Mowen, 2000). Absurdity can be defined as the illogical such as the act of substituting symmetric doom with cows in an enclosed space (Arias-Bolzmann et al., 2000). If the previous example is actually logical, please, let me know.
Absurd things can be conspicuous as they can be classed as novel things, which human, through evolution, may be sensitive to due to an advantage of noticing changes in the environment (Arias-Bolzmann et al., 2000; Johnston, Hawley, Plewe, Elliott & Dewitt, 1990). If you cannot notice a new grizzly bear standing in plain sight in a living room, you might be in more trouble than if you did see it and treated it with respect (Herrero & Fleck, 1989). The unexpected can also receive more attention by encouraging people to think harder about it (Houston, Childers & Hecklers, 1987). This greater amount of processing can in turn create better memories (Hecklers & Childers, 1992). What’s more, Gelbrich, Gäthke and Westjohn (2012) too found that adverts containing absurdity were better remembered than adverts without absurdity in the United States of America, Russia, Germany and China.
Something in the middle row here is attracting my attention amidst this collection of Firebox.com products
Some other things in Firebox.com
Absurdity can also help those with negative opinions of the brand to gain a better image of the brand (Arias-Bolzmann et al., 2000). This is potentially related to how absurdity can also be humourous (Arias-Bolzmann et al., 2000). Likewise, Gürkaynak, Uçel and Günerergin (2011) concluded that humour can also promote better brand images. However, humour, in these harder economic times, may not increase sales (Gürkaynak et al., 2011). Instead, discounts were found to promote sales more effectively (Gürkaynak et al., 2011), but humour is good to build better brand images. Still, not everything can be advertised with humour (Eisend, 2007). A study have found that practical products that were less risky buys, e.g. can openers and door stops, did not pair well with humourous adverts (Eisend, 2007). Hence, if you want to use absurdity and humour to gain attention, best think about your product.
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