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Evolutionary Inc Newsletter

Marketing and evolutionary psychology insights,

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How to Design More Appealing Consumer Good Packages Using Evolutionary Psychology?

The fact that faces and body shapes can activate innate mental mechanisms is no news for Evolutionary Inc readers. In a previous issue, we´ve discussed how baby faces can reduce crime and antisocial behavior by activating the parental instinct. In this issue, we´ll look at how hourglass-shaped and V-shaped anthropomorphized packages of consumer goods elicit aesthetic appeals and influence product evaluations.
First, let´s set the scene. It was the summer of 2017, Ghent, Belgium. I was attending ICORIA (International Conference on Research in Advertising) for the first time (I´m now an avid goer with three consecutive attendances). By pure luck, I ended up sitting in a session where an inspiring piece of research by Caroline De Bondt and colleagues was presented. Halfway through the presentation, I knew that this research was going to win an award, and it did so.
By relying on evolutionary psychology, De Bondt and colleagues demonstrate that anthropomorphized (i.e., containing humanlike properties) packages of consumer goods activate the mental schema of the human body. This elicits aesthetic appeals, which in turn impact product evaluations through the “what is beautiful is good” heuristic. In particular, the study indicates that this subconscious effect is guided by our innate preference for the ideal human body figures – the hourglass figure in females, and the V-shaped figure in males. Preferences for these shapes are innate and stem from the reproductive and survival advantages associated with them.

The study shows that both shapes generate more aesthetic appeals than non-anthropomorphized packages or packages resembling a non-ideal human body figure, for gender-neutral products. For example, consumers find the iconic Coca-Cola contour bottle more visually appealing than the Coca-Cola can. When it comes to gender-specific products (e.g., personal care products), the research team found a schema congruity effect – male consumers prefer packages that resemble the ideal V-shaped male figure (think of Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male), while female consumers prefer packages that resemble the ideal hourglass female figure.
Marketers in the fast moving consumer goods industry can use these innate biological blueprints of the human mind to build packages and products that consumers instinctively find appealing and favorable.
Practice. Dream.
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Copyright © 2020 Lachezar Ivanov, All rights reserved.

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