Anyone who’s ever marketed—or purchased—an overly hyped product knows that price can drive demand. Pricing a product too cheaply can change the way consumers feel about it. After all, the thinking goes, a product that can be cheaply sold must have something wrong with it. It turns out the bias in favor of more expensive products doesn’t just affect consumer behavior; it can also change the way your brain processes information. According to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, brain activity differs between consumers who think they’re about to consume cheap wine and those who plan to drink the more expensive stuff.
How High Wine Prices Affect Your Brain
Hilke Plassmann and Bernd Weber, the study’s lead authors, highlight previous research showing that people enjoy products more if they come with a higher price tag. Researchers have long argued that this bias in favor of more expensive goods exists. Plassmann and Weber theorized that the bias might change the way the brain responds to more expensive goods, serving to confirm that such goods really are “better.”
Researchers used MRI scans to examine participants’ brains after telling them they would consume five wines of prices ranging from $5 to $90. In reality, they gave participants three different wines of two prices. Participants who consumed the “expensive” wines rated those wines as better-tasting. The MRI scans also showed changes in brain activity based on the participants’ beliefs about the wines’ prices.
It wasn’t just price that affected how participants felt about the wines, though. Researchers also evaluated the participants’ personalities, assigning rankings for reward-seeking behaviors, physical self-awareness, and other personality traits. They found that participants who scored highly on reward-seeking tendencies and low on physical self-awareness were more susceptible to price-based prejudices about the wines.
Can cheap wine taste great? Brain imaging and marketing placebo effects. (2015, April 29). Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150429104809.htm
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