Don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself: A simple but effective marketing technique

By Francine Espinoza Petersen and Rebecca W. Hamilton


A new approach to marketing could emerge in the near future with increasing numbers of advertisers inviting consumers to judge products for themselves. If this approach is taken, then taglines such as “this car is really great, but don’t let my opinion influence you” or “don’t take our word for it, discover it for yourself” will start to become more commonplace, whether it be in television advertisements or from a marketing or sales agent at the other end of the phone.

This potential new direction follows interesting research on the effect of judgment correction on consumer confidence. In a research paper entitled “Confidence via correction: The effect of judgment correction on consumer confidence” Francine Espinoza Petersen, associate professor of marketing at ESMT and her coauthor Rebecca W. Hamilton from the University of Maryland reveal a simple new technique which could help companies, marketers, and advertisers increase the persuasiveness of their message.

According to Petersen’s findings, advertisements could be more effective if they warned consumers of their possible influence and encouraged consumers to form their own opinions free of any bias. The resulting effect, known as the “confidence via correction” effect, is that consumers become more confident in their judgment when they are motivated to form their own opinion. Such correction processes have a strong influence on the purchasing intentions of consumers. Petersen says that the natural consequence of this is that “when consumers have positive attitudes towards a product, increasing their confidence makes them more willing to buy the product.”

These findings are particularly significant for those recommenders that are generally seen as low credibility recommenders, such as companies, salespeople, and marketing agents who are selling directly to consumers. Consumers tend to see these recommenders as more biased. However, consumers ironically become more likely to purchase a product suggested by such a recommender when they are motivated to form their own judgments free from others’ influences. This finding suggests that if the likes of marketing agents adopted this simple technique it could in fact enhance the persuasiveness of their message and result in increased sales.

In a recent radio advertisement for the BMW new 3 series model, rather than extolling the superiority of the car compared to its competitors, BMW called on consumers to “see why for themselves.” A similar advertisement run by General Motors Corporation for the Chevy Silverado invited consumers to “discover it for yourself.” Following this ad campaign, sales of the Silverado, in particular, enjoyed increased year on year sales. In one of the studies carried out by Petersen, a group of consumers were asked to respond to two different car advertisements, one of which instructed the consumers “don’t take our word for it,” and it was found that those consumers that were prompted to judge for themselves, were more willing to buy the product in this advertisement.

Marketing, Organizational Behavior

Consumer Goods and Retail

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