Would other people influence your opinion about something as simple as a soda? We ran a social experiment to find out, and the results may surprise you!
Our brains are always on the lookout for cues to help us understand the world around us, and these cues often change our perceptions and our decisions without us being fully aware of it. In order to take a closer look at how people take in these complex cues when making decisions and forming perceptions, we sent our team out to a farmers market and ran a little social experiment.
In this experiment, we had three members of our team act as “actors” or “plants.” Our actors were instructed to praise soda A over soda B, even though they were the exact same soda. They did this in front of a fourth person that we’d randomly found in the crowd, and when our interviewer turned to the fourth person to get their opinion, we found something pretty interesting. In every single case, the participant preferred the exact same soda that our three actors had just praised. They even went so far as to say that it was “sweeter,” “smoother” and “lighter,” and that the soda had “more flavor, and better taste.” The opinion of others had a big impact on their preference of the soda, even changing their perception of taste!
Interestingly, even after the participants were told that the others were actors, they still continued to defend their opinion!
Overall, the odds of each participant agreeing with the actors by chance was pretty slim, so these results really highlight the strong unconscious role that social cues play in shaping our opinions and perceptions of things, all the way down to the taste of a soda!
This social experiment is a great illustration of what’s known as social conformity or social proof in psychology. Social proof says that people tend to do and like what they see other people doing and liking. But beyond social proof, these results highlight some powerful and provocative insights that marketers can use to change the way that people see and think about their brands.
Do you want people to notice and think about your brand more than competitors’? Do you want people to like your brand more than your competitors’? Do you want people to purchase your product instead of your competitors’? In all of these cases, social cues and the psychology of social proof can help your brand get noticed, thought about, remembered, considered, and purchased.
Social proof is just one of many psychological insights that can be embedded within the customer’s experience of your brand. And when marketers carefully select the right psychological biases and heuristics for their messaging, they can find greater engagement throughout the entire customer journey, from the TV advertisement to social media, all the way to the point-of-purchase.
At Intermark Group, we’ve conducted a series of social psychology experiments that help drive home the powerful impact of psychology on marketing. Give us a call at 833-578-1314 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help you turn psychological insights into great creative.