Do people go to KFC because they crave deep-fried chicken or another reason?
Hey, are you ready to hear the most depressing thing you’ll hear all day?
According to findings published this week in the European Journal of Social Psychology, people are more likely to gravitate towards brands with human faces associated to them. Basically, people are more likely to buy chicken from KFC because of Colonel Sanders’ face on the box. Why is that? It’s because they’re lonely.
That’s right; brands that display a face on their packaging are more likely to sell their product because people are so lonely that they’ll feel comforted by another human. Products like Coco Pops, Rice Crispies, or Kinder Bueno might appear more appealing to consumers who haven’t hung our with pals in a while.
Professor Bettina Cornwell from the University of Oregon first noticed this phenomenon while travelling alone in France. She had never been a fan of chips before, yet she found herself buying a bag and consuming them regularly while she was away. She noticed this behavior and began wondering why she was doing so.
She quickly realized the correlation between the smiling face printed on the packaging of said chips, and how it comforted her when she thought about how much she was missing her family.
Cornwell enlisted the help of Ulrich Orth, Jana Ohlhoff, and Christiane Naber to conduct a series of tests to prove her theory. They created 18 fake brands; some that featured face images and some that did not. The results showed that people were more likely to choose the products with the faces. Another study took 45 different labels and ranked them on a scale from one to seven based on clarity of face on the brand’s imagery. The higher ranked items typically tested better among consumers.
The concept is referred to as “wishful seeing”; where people feel as though they’re filling a void by purchasing items they feel that feel familiar. So, next time you go to McDonalds at 11:00PM after a full day without interacting with anyone, think to yourself if it’s because of their quality burgers, or because you want to see your friend Ronald.
Photo Cred: Creative Commons