Product-Person BiasOpen Access

Product-Person Bias

We look for and value human connections in our products

Be it a human-like shape, empathic vocal feedback or humorous tone of voice in the manual: products with a positive human touch are always preferred.

Landwehr, McGill & Herrmann (2011). It's got the look: The effect of friendly and aggressive “facial” expressions on product liking and sales. Journal of Marketing.

The study

Setup

146 people were asked to view one of four cell phones that had buttons made to look like a smile or a frown with either upturned or downturned eyes. They were then asked to rate how much they liked that particular phone.

Results

Those who saw a friendly face liked their phone far more than those who saw a sad, negative face.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Make it human.

Doing so will speed up familiarity with abstract or complex products (Hart, 2013), or for new or lonely customers (Hart & Royne, 2017).

Where can you add warm humanness to your product?

Takeaway image

Go all in.

In 2009, price comparison site Comparethemarket changed its fortunes overnight by introducing Aleksandr, a talking Russian meerkat. With his own language, highly active social media presence, soap opera, merchandise and even a pseudo-autobiography, he’s one of the most talked about ad campaigns in recent UK history.

Takeaway image

Unboxing as ‘birth’.

Consider Flymo's Robotic Lawnmower. Many owner reviews on Amazon gave their 'new family member' a name, but Flymo could build this smoothly into the unboxing experience. How can you design for a subtle human bond at first sight? Doing so may create a stronger Ownership Bias and may lead consumers to take greater care of their product, along with being more tolerant of any of its characterful 'shortcomings'.

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
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Product-Person Bias

Product-Person Bias

We look for and value human connections in our products

Be it a human-like shape, empathic vocal feedback or humorous tone of voice in the manual: products with a positive human touch are always preferred.

The study

Setup

146 people were asked to view one of four cell phones that had buttons made to look like a smile or a frown with either upturned or downturned eyes. They were then asked to rate how much they liked that particular phone.

Results

Those who saw a friendly face liked their phone far more than those who saw a sad, negative face.

study graph
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We’re hardwired to return kindness received

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We make very different decisions based on how a fact is presented

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We feel more negative when losing something than positive when we gain it

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We tend to accept the option pre-chosen for us

Anchoring

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What we see first affects our judgement of everything thereafter

Fast & Slow Thinking

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We make knee-jerk spontaneous decisions that can cause regretful damage

Salience

Salience

Our choices are determined by the information we're shown

Connected to

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We don’t like uncertainty and generally stick to what we know
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