Can't fool a customer twice by falsely claiming quality

The term biasing cue refers to the marketer's tactic of dressing a product to imply high quality. Such branding often works once, but is it a viable long-term strategy? Not if the product fails to live up to its promise, according to a new study.

The "fool me once" study recently appearing in the Journal of Consumer Research concluded that companies can enjoy initial success by pushing elements that seem to elevate a product's quality, even if actually irrelevant.

Examples of bias cue advertising might include shampoo ingredients that do nothing (with placenta!), endorsements by media stars (as seen on Oprah), sponsorship of sports events, or advertising side-by-side with other upscale products in magazines such as Harper's. Even raising the price of an item sharply can serve as a biasing cue we infer as greater quality. These are common strategies for companies wishing to move its products to a higher price point.

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