Show multiple copies of your product
Don’t display your product alone. Show it alongside copies of itself. People will perceive it as more effective, both when deciding to buy it and when using it.
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Imagine a company is launching a new canned energy drink.
How should they show it in their ads? Or display it on store shelves?
Is it better to show one can, standing alone: your lone energy superhero, ready to wake you up.
Or is it better to display an army of cans standing together, ready to help you get the job done?
Here’s what scientific research found.
P.S.: Remember, the space that you leave around your product(s) also matters. A lot.
In one experiment, people perceived jewelry to be much more valuable when the space around it increased, which increased sales by 98%.
Previous insight: Don’t say “It’s usually better” (150+ more insights here)
Showing multiple copies of a product together makes it appear more effective
Channels: Ads | Ecommerce | Retail | Website | Packaging | Marketing communications
For: B2C. Can be tested for B2B
Research date: January 2020
Show your product with multiple copies of it next to each other. Don’t show it alone. (e.g. show 3 bottles of the same vitamin pills in an ad, not just 1 alone).
People will perceive it as better, both when thinking of buying it and when actually using it.
Apply it anywhere. In your ads, your website, your packaging, or store displays.
A product seems more effective when it is shown along multiple copies of itself than when it is shown alone. This happens both when choosing to buy the product and when using it (e.g. people feel that the energy drink gives them more energy).
For example, as part of a series of 6 experiments:
371 people were asked to imagine they were shopping online for a natural energy shot. They perceived the energy shot as 10.7% more energetic when it was shown as 15 bottles (vs 1). Showing even just 2 bottles had similar results to showing 15
207 people were given either 1 or 6 Gatorade Energy Chews (energy gummies). Those who got 6, ate 1 and returned the rest. People that received the group of 6 gummies performed better in a word game afterward
🧠 Why it works
When we see multiple identical products together, we perceive them as a unified group.
The unified group feels more effective than the sum of its parts at getting the job done.
The same happens with groups of people. When we perceive people as being a part of a unified group (e.g. athletes, uniformed employees), we perceive them as more effective.
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For this to work, a product must be positioned as effective mainly at one specific thing (e.g. giving energy, improving health, washing clothes, going fast).
Many products aren’t bought because they are effective at only one thing (e.g. we usually buy a laptop for its mix of screen resolution, battery life, and design; not only one of these).
Others aren’t bought for their ‘effectiveness’ at all (e.g. we usually don’t buy an indoor house plant for its effectiveness at cleaning air).
Note: when trying to replicate one of the (six) experiments after this study was published, other researchers could not find the same effect. This could mean that the effect is not as strong as initially expected or was mistakenly found in this study. Remember, we are at the vanguard of science here on Ariyh, and this knowledge is constantly evolving. So always test insights first before applying them.
🏢 Companies using this
Most companies don’t usually use this effect in their ads or product pages, although they occasionally do.
Supermarkets tend to use this effect correctly when displaying products on their shelves, although they seem to do so also for products for which it is unnecessary (e.g. a pack of pasta).
Dawn Dish Soap correctly displayed their product on Amazon - although it was to display a 2-pack promotion rather than to make the product feel more effective.
⚡ Steps to implement
Make sure people buy your product because it is effective at something specific (e.g. fast, powerful).
Design your ads, website, and shelf displays so that the product is not shown alone.
Showing the product in pairs of 2 is already sufficient to activate this effect, but you can show as many as you want.
You don’t always have to use this. Depending on your brand (e.g. mass market vs premium) or other tactics you use (e.g. scarcity) you may want to skip using this effect at times. For example, a high-end product that is very in demand may look strange if it is displayed on tightly packed fully-stocked shelves.
🔍 Study type
Lab and online experiments.
Product entitativity: How the presence of product replicates increases perceived and actual product efficacy. Journal of Consumer Research (January 2020).
Noah Vanbergen. Carl H. Lindner College of Business, University of Cincinnati
Caglar Irmak. University of Miami
Julio Sevilla. University of Georgia
Remember: This is a scientific discovery. In the future it will probably be better understood and could even be proven wrong (that’s how science works). It may also not be generalizable to your situation. If it’s a risky change, always test it on a small scale before rolling it out widely.
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