Fear and Loneliness Make Branded Products More Memorable, Study Shows
Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported on an interesting study—one that claims feeling a combination of fear and loneliness makes branded products noticeably more memorable and perceived in a favorable way.
The study, which tested consumer response and recall to branded products after watching movie clips from different genres of film (comedy, horror, etc.), found that when participants felt fear, they reported increased emotional attachment to branded items placed nearby. This feeling of attachment increased further when the subject felt alone. From the article:
That's because fear works differently from other emotions. The relationship between a brand and a person actually improves during a scary experience. When people feel scared, they look for affiliation and attachment, and brands are there to pick up the slack for loners. It's the same emotional satisfaction that's derived from a teddy bear or a blankie—except now it's potato chips. Dunn's research suggests people actually felt that the brand experienced their fear with them. The products didn't have to be in the movie itself-they could have simply been nearby.
The article also said that the products didn't have to be within reach of the participant, visible proximity was enough. It also said that "10 seconds of visual attachment is enough to feel the shared experience."
While the study seems to be more about name brands rather than promotional products, it's worth noting that in the experiment, "a new brand of bottled water not available locally," and "a brand of juice not available locally," were used as the branded items in the experiment, implying that deep brand familiarity may not be necessary for the beneficial fear effects to take hold. And while opportunities to use promotional products during horror movies may be few and far between, things like haunted houses or particularly intense theme park rides could provide situations fearful enough to make use of the study's findings. Similarly, items like auto safety kits and other branded safety or first aid items could also benefit.