Contrast EffectOpen Access

Contrast Effect

We better remember products that stand out from their surroundings

A clever use of contrast to surprise, delight and assist consumers will boost conversion and strengthen long-term recall of your brand.

Hunt (1995). The subtlety of distinctiveness: What von Restorff really did. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

The study

Setup

40 people were split into two groups and shown a list made up of either 10 unrelated items (a number, a syllable, a colour, a word etc.), or 9 numbers and one isolated syllable placed second in the list. After a 10-minute reading task, both groups were then asked to recall the list.

Results

Those in the isolation group successfully recalled the syllable 70% of the time, as opposed to 40% in the control.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Use complementary contrast. When showing a list of similar products (e.g. beer), weave in a contrasting product to create complementary cross-selling (e.g. nuts) or up-selling (premium beer) opportunities. 

Takeaway image

Use contrast for clarity. If you offer a range of products, draw the undecided consumer to a strategic option, preventing choice overload and assisting sales. How might customers become overwhelmed with your range? How can you create a clear sense of contrast that avoids this negative feeling?

Takeaway image

Contrast through context. If your brand is familiar, how can you place it in relevant yet unexpected contexts to heighten recall? For instance, British food delivery service Deliveroo could have a movie tie-in shot in London, where its turquoise drivers whiz by in the background 2-3 times over the course of the narrative. 

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
Contrast Effect

Contrast Effect

We better remember products that stand out from their surroundings

A clever use of contrast to surprise, delight and assist consumers will boost conversion and strengthen long-term recall of your brand.

The study

Setup

40 people were split into two groups and shown a list made up of either 10 unrelated items (a number, a syllable, a colour, a word etc.), or 9 numbers and one isolated syllable placed second in the list. After a 10-minute reading task, both groups were then asked to recall the list.

Results

Those in the isolation group successfully recalled the syllable 70% of the time, as opposed to 40% in the control.

study graph
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