Make us your home page
Instagram

Slogans that say 'save' may prompt consumers to spend more

Roberta Backus says people may be more willing to spend when they believe the savings are worthwhile. Her advertising agency helped come up with the Discovery Cruise Line slogan “Not One Cent More.”

Miami Herald

Roberta Backus says people may be more willing to spend when they believe the savings are worthwhile. Her advertising agency helped come up with the Discovery Cruise Line slogan “Not One Cent More.”

For this holiday season and beyond, Fort Lauderdale advertising agency Backus Turner International helped buoy sales for Discovery Cruise Line with the slogan "Not One Cent More." The phrase promotes the idea that the advertised price is the amount you'll pay, with no taxes, surcharges or huge bar bills to surprise you later.

"People are saying, 'Wow, this company is telling us the truth,' " says Roberta Backus, Backus Turner CEO. "It's all-inclusive, all the way."

At least during this mildly merry economic time of year, the cruises are selling. What vacationer wouldn't want a trip that includes safeguards from going overboard financially? But as the festive days of vacationing, shopping — and therefore advertising — engulf our attention, one researcher from the University of Miami is saying that the money-saving slogans singing "value" will actually cause us to fork over to retailers twice as much cash.

"Slogans that suggest saving money make people spend more in general," says Juliano Laran, a professor of marketing at the University of Miami who conducted the research. "People think slogans are there to make them do something they might not want to do. So they react by doing the opposite."

Laran says his findings indicate that advertising messages actually carry an undercurrent that makes us feel coerced. And because we prefer to remain in control of our own decisions, we react with a rebellious shrug, doing the reverse instead. So if a company tells us to save money, we react by spending more of it. That means the slogans designed for these economic times — the ones suggesting we shop frugally — are subconsciously sabotaging our efforts to do just that.

"For retailers, slogans associated with saving money work really well," Laran says.

He says that the slogan for Discovery Cruise Line — and its customers' positive response — illustrates his point. The undertone is about staying within budget. But what happened is that people booked cruises.

"When I'm trying to save money, I don't go spending it on cruises," he says. "It's not that slogans don't work. It's that they produce the opposite behavior. They threaten your freedom."

A strong assertion, perhaps, when discussing whether to take a holiday cruise.

But it's an idea based on two shopping standards long held by psychologists and marketing experts.

First, luxury brand names subconsciously reset our minds so they're thinking about high quality and top prices, while bargain brands have the opposite effect.

Second, we do not like sales tactics that are overly persuasive. In fact, we'll walk away from a perfectly good product at a perfectly good price — even if it's exactly what we were shopping for in the first place — if we believe a person or a company is coming on too strong.

With those ideas in mind, Laran brought more than 1,000 subjects into a lab throughout 2009 and conducted a series of studies.

In one experiment, he told subjects they were participating in a memorization task before dividing them into four groups. The first group was asked to remember the brand names of companies that advertise their economic edge, such as Wal-Mart. The second group was asked to remember slogans from those dollar-conscious companies. The third group was assigned neutral brands that consumers don't automatically equate with financial savings, such as Publix. Then the fourth group was asked to learn slogans of those cost-neutral companies.

Afterward, participants were told it was time to go shopping. The people who had been exposed to the money-saving slogan reported being ready to spend about $100 more than everyone else. And even though the work was done in the midst of a recession, Laran says the results would have been the same a decade ago.

"People's brains don't change," he says. "This is cognitive. We've learned that marketing is there to persuade us and then we react against things that are too persuasive."

Backus — who disputes the findings — offers another explanation: Perhaps people are more willing to spend when they believe the savings are worthwhile.

"You rebel against something that's distasteful," she says. "But if it appeals to you, you respond to it."

Meanwhile, fellow slogan-composer Andrew Keller, the CEO of Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Boulder, Colo., points out that people will answer in a lab much differently from how they'll act in a store.

Regardless, it's hard to hide from the fact that slogans are designed to persuade us, says Kelly Goldsmith, an assistant professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

"At the end of the day, rebelling for the sake of rebelling is stupid," Goldsmith says. "It's important to think back about what our goals are as opposed to anything else."

Slogans that say 'save' may prompt consumers to spend more 12/25/10 [Last modified: Saturday, December 25, 2010 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders

    Corporate

    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  2. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?

    Energy

    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. Citigroup agrees to pay nearly $100 million fine for Mexican subsidiary

    Banking

    NEW YORK — Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering.

    Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering. 
[Associated Press file photo]

  4. Goodbye Tampa Bay Express, hello Tampa Bay Next; but toll lanes aren't going anywhere

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Express is dead.

    The name, that is. But its replacement — Tampa Bay Next — includes several of the same projects once proposed for TBX, such as the express toll lanes on the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. DOT officials say there are still re-evaluating the most controversial aspect of the old TBX plan: spend $6 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area highways - Interstates 4,75 and 275 - that are currently free of tolls. But TBN will keep the plan to add express toll lanes to the rebuilt Howard Frankland Bridge. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay lands on Forbes 2017 ranking of best places for young professionals

    Working Life

    Consider this one more notch in the belt of Tampa Bay starting to win serious attention from millennials as a place to live and build a career.

    Mike Griffin is a senior managing director in Tampa for Savills Studley Occupier Services, which provides integrated real estate services. He is also chairman for 2017 of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the first of the next generation of leadership emerging in this metro market. [Courtesy of Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce]