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Best Examples of Mere Exposure Effect in eCommerce Marketing

People tend to prefer familiar people, situations, or objects. This psychological effect is used in marketing to enhance consumer attitudes toward particular brands and products.

What is the Mere Exposure Effect?

Mere Exposure Effect, Defined

The mere exposure effect is continuous exposure to a stimulus (e.g., a name, sound, or picture) leads to greater preference or enjoyment of that stimulus. It is, in other words, a person’s constant exposure to a subject or an event. The effect is more significant if a negative attitude to the stimulus has not been previously developed or if the person is unaware of the stimulus presentation.

The effect of this situation on people’s decisions is as follows: When people need to make a decision and choose something, they tend to prefer the situation or person they are most exposed to. For example, babies smile primarily at people who smile more at them. The more you see a person, the more sympathetic you find them, and the more you enjoy their presence. Blatantly put, brands exploit the mere exposure effect in their advertising campaigns. Familiarity with a logo, a slogan or a company image may lead you to choose that specific product.

History of the Mere Exposure Effect

Robert Zajonc, a social psychologist, wrote a seminal work on the mere exposure effect in 1968. Zajonc believed that simply being exposed to something on a regular basis was sufficient to make people enjoy it. They did not need to receive a reward or a positive consequence when around the object, according to Zajonc—just being exposed to it was enough to make people enjoy it.

Examples of Mere Exposure Effect in Psychology

Falling in Love

The Mere Exposure Effect explains an essential factor that determines the attraction between people. According to a study by Pew (2006), 38% of married people or people in a long-term relationship meet each other at the same job, school, sports centre, or church. Furthermore, according to this study, as the number of interactions between people grows, so does their attraction. With this piece of evidence, it is seen that familiarity between people, especially seeing someone every day, affects people’s decision making, and therefore, their feelings towards each other.

How Hit Songs Are Made

According to Charles Duhigg, “People listen to Top 40 because they want to hear their favourite songs or songs that sound like their favourite songs. When something different comes on, they’re offended. They don’t want anything unfamiliar.” 

Hey Ya!, a worldwide hit song from 2003, was actually disliked by many listeners, and people would switch stations during the song. However, the radio station was determined to make this song a hit. Therefore, they sandwiched Hey Ya! between two familiar songs to keep people from switching stations. This led to Hey Ya! becoming familiar with listeners and making it a monster hit song.

Another interesting fact discovered by the radio stations was that people who stated that they were sick of Celine Dion did not change the station because she sounded familiar. Subsequently, Hey Ya! was played after a Celine Dion song. As a result, when proposing an unfamiliar piece of music that someone has not experienced before, it is helpful to sandwich it between familiar songs.

Mere Exposure Effect in Marketing

Referring to Family in Advertisements

“Coca-Cola: Together Tastes Better” ad

The use of family has been a common marketing strategy since the Industrial Revolution. Brands have specific target audiences, especially brands that appeal to larger audiences. To attract different audiences, brands use families in their advertisements. Most of the world’s population is familiar with the concept of family. Using families in adverts make the audience instantly feel familiar with the brand.

Family is and will be used the most in advertisements since it is the most common ground within the world’s population. The familiarity with the advert will also create familiarity and intimacy with the brand.

Billboards and Brochures

Digital billboard display

Presently, billboards and brochures are accepted as outdated and old marketing techniques for companies. However, big brands continue to advertise their products using billboards and brochures.

Billboard advertisements are intended to rapidly capture a person’s attention and leave a lasting impression, leaving the reader wondering about the ad after driving past it. Because they are generally read while being passed at fast speeds, they must be readable at a glance. As a result, there are usually only a few phrases in huge font sizes and a brightly coloured graphic that is amusing or attention-grabbing.

Brands aim to capture the consumer’s attention and make the product familiar in their minds. Therefore, when the consumer is shopping at the supermarket, their choice will be the product they are most familiar with.

Using Colour Psychology While Designing Brand Logos and Adverts

Brand logos grouped by colour and the colour’s meaning

Companies cannot control emotional responses towards their brand, but they can direct these perceptions through design, style, and colour. Because our brains are programmed to absorb and memorise new shapes, the presentation of a logo can significantly impact its effectiveness.

Companies use colour theory while designing their brand logos and advertisements to catch the customers’ attention and make them remember the brand. After creating a familiarity with the brand, customers will be more likely to purchase their product whilst making decisions at the supermarket.

“Yves Saint Laurent Libre” perfume ad with Dua Lipa

Another marketing technique that uses the mere exposure effect is using popular music. While marketing, especially an unfamiliar product, brands put something familiar in their advertisements. Using popular music is a common marketing strategy to familiarise customers with the brand and product in some way. Even though music licences can be expensive, especially with top hits, brands continue to use this marketing strategy. 

According to the research by Dr. Bradley Vines, using neuroscience methods, pop music increases attention, emotion, and memory by 20%. Furthermore, our neurological wear-in score revealed that the pop song’s effectiveness increased significantly across several viewings, indicating that consumers became more engaged with the commercial the more they saw and heard it.

eCommerce Marketing Strategies Using Mere Exposure Effect

Showing the Product On Your Landing Page

As the mere exposure effect suggests, familiarity with the product is critical in determining customer decisions. Having a positive outcome from the product is not necessary. Therefore, exposing the product to the customer will increase the chances of a purchase.

The most clicked page at an eCommerce website is the landing page. Hence, it is crucial what products are displayed on the landing page. Of course, the least risky way is to put the best selling products; however, the product that the seller wants to sell the most can also be on the landing page with proper strategy. In this way, the customers will be exposed to the products the seller wants to display from the first second and become more familiar with the product.

Using Banners and Push Notifications

Push notifications and banners are a great way to expose the customers to specific products. Especially if the product is personalised according to the customer’s preferences, there is a high possibility that the customer will buy it even if it is not something the customer necessarily needs or plans to buy.

A study used banner adverts on a computer screen to assess the mere exposure effect. College students were required to read an article on a computer screen as banner adverts flashed across the top. The findings revealed that each group exposed to the “test” banner scored it higher than the other advertising that was displayed less frequently or not at all.

Customers use the search tool frequently to find a specific product that they are looking for. It’s pretty typical for customers to head directly to the search box after entering an eCommerce website. You can take advantage of this behaviour pattern by pinning products to the search results page with Segmentify. Segmentify’s Search & Discovery allows you to pin products using a rule-based process so that you can expose your customers to specific products. One of the best ways to use this feature is to pin products on no results or 404 error pages.

Creating Social Media Familiarity

Social media has become a popular digital marketing tool for brands. Social media is not only for brands to create a brand name but also to expose their brands to further audiences.

Most social media applications have “discover more pages” where users can see posts from different accounts with the help of algorithms that cater to the users’ tastes. Brands with substantial social media presence have higher traffic towards their website. Customers become exposed to their products even without clicking the website. And eventually, customers become familiar with the brand and its products and will make their purchase when the time comes. An additional way of using social media is using social media ads, also making it possible to connect with the right audience. Even though the customer does not click the ad, the product will still be something that they are familiar with.

Concluding Remarks

Consequently, exposing the brand and the product to potential customers is an effective marketing strategy. However, overexposure is not always positively received. The customer can get tired of being bombarded with constant ads, which may lower the company’s reputation.

Mere Exposure Effect graph

As seen above, there is a maximum score that the number of exposures and the mean liking score can get. Therefore, increasing the number of exposures will increase the liking score until some point, which means it is vital not to exceed this.

As a result, the mere exposure effect is one of the top psychological effects in human decision making. Using this effect and adapting it to your eCommerce business will increase sales rates and brand awareness.

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