Louis Cheskin tested Seven-Up and found that if you add 15% more yellow to the package people report the taste experience has a lot more lemon flavor. If you add 15% more green to the package, people report more lime flavor (Gladwell, p. 163).
This upset a lot of people in the study.
What was in the bottle stayed exactly the same but the packaging shifted tester's sensations of the product. This interesting phenomenon is called Sensation Transference.
Coined by Cheskin, he recognized that "when people give an assessment of something they might buy in a supermarket or a department store, without realizing it, they transfer sensations or impressions that they have about the packaging of the product to the product itself...Cheskin believed that most of us don't make a distinction - on an unconscious level - between the package and the product. The product is the package and the product combined (Gladwell, p. 160)."
Great question! This applies to all of us.
How we present ourselves to the general public affects how people perceive you. I want to rock sweats and a messy bun everywhere I go, yet to be taken seriously I need to "dress to impress".
Since we are being judged by our packaging, let's look at some ways we can make it easy for other people to make better assumptions about who we are.
We can apply sensation transference to our public personas by:
- Updating our profile pictures
- Trying new ways of dressing (ie. hairstyles, outfit changes, shifting your accessories)
- Having different elevator speeches and testing them out in different crowds
- Applying what we like on social media to our own pages (ie. I click "like" on brightly coloured flatlays, so I should try incorporating that idea to my page by clearing the space around my food selfies)
For business owners, below are some ideas that may help your branding strategy. You can test these by measuring response rates, clicks, purchasing behaviors, and more:
- A/B testing on newsletters
- Running different ads, to the same customers
- Posting content with similar themes but a different focus (ie. theme = money; post about budgeting and then about mutual funds)
- Using different colour palettes, patterns, textures, and/or colourways for your brand
- Shifting your email footers and see if people click through the links
- Using videos vs images vs gifs vs words to see what your customers are drawn to
Liam Curley describes sensation transference as, "a bit like wine and the placebo effect, the more expensive the wine is, the better it tastes." The way we present ourselves and businesses can significantly change the perceptions of others.
I hope you find other innovative ways to use this concept in your life!
Curley, L. (2016, February 17). There’s more to your product than your product: sensation transference in a digital world. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/theres-more-your-product-than-sensation-transference-digital-curley
Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking. New York : Little, Brown And Co., 2005. Print.