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Three: The Right Number of Product Claims to Sway Consumer Behavior

Consumer BehaviorSince Danny Brown and I published Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing,  the practice of influence marketing has continued to expand beyond simple social scoring. In fact, social ranking/scoring is all but dead (save for the popular “top XX marketer” link-bait blog posts that continue to add noise to the digital airwaves).

We’re happy that the practice, which is moving more towards a science than a social experiment, has started to produce meaningful metrics and results. Aside from the new software companies entering the market, universities and research firms are dedicating more resources to better understanding what truly influences consumer attitudes and, more importantly, purchase behaviors through digital communications.

One such study was released by UCLA and Georgetown University, which attempted to measure the number of “positive claims” that a consumer would have to read before his or her purchase decision would be swayed.   The study concluded that, “In settings where consumers know that the message source has a persuasion motive, the optimal number of positive claims is three. More claims are better until the fourth claim, at which time consumers’ persuasion knowledge causes them to see all the claims with skepticism.”

Three: The Right Number of Product Claims to Sway Consumer Behavior

The researchers studied the “impression peak” of participants (the favorable impression of a product) when those participants viewed the product claims to have “persuasive motives” (messages created by advertisers meant to sway public perception around a product or brand).  In these circumstances, participants hit a peak positive impression about the brand after seeing three positive claims. When a fourth positive claim was introduced, their positive impression of the promoted product decreased.

“Beginning with the fourth positive claim, participants’ impressions became less favorable,” wrote researchers Suzanne B. Shu of UCLA and Kurt A. Carlson of Georgetown University.

The researchers used various products and businesses to test their hypothesis, including a breakfast cereal, a restaurant, a shampoo, an ice cream store, and a politician.

Effect on Influence Marketing

These results should have an effect on social media marketing practices, including content marketing and social media marketing. In a business’s efforts to be noticed among the increasing digital noise on the Internet, is it creating too much content? Can a business have too many advocates?

Further, this research may force social media monitoring companies to think about new metrics, such as the average number of positive claims seen by an individual prospect. Maybe we’ll be seeing “unique positive claim” numbers are a gauge of success or failure?

Sensei Debates

Have consumers become so jaded with influence marketing schemes and “peer reviews” that the number of positive claims simply increases their distrust of the recommendation?

Sam Fiorella
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego

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  1. […] One such study was released by UCLA and Georgetown University, which attempted to measure the number of “positive claims” that a consumer would have to read before his or her purchase decision would be swayed. The study concluded that, “In settings where consumers know that the message source has a persuasion motive, the optimal number of positive claims is three. More claims are better until the fourth claim, at which time consumers’ persuasion knowledge causes them to see all the claims with skepticism.”…  […]

  2. […] Three: The Right Number of Product Claims to Sway Consumer Behavior. New research raises question: Is there's such as thing as "too much advocacy?"  […]


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