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Consummatory Images

I recently read an article in the Journal of Marketing (September 2013 issue) titled “How Images of Other Consumers Influence Subsequent Taste Perceptions” by Morgan Poor, Adam Duhacheck, and H. Shanker Krishnan.  From the title of the article, I didn’t realize that I should interpret “taste” literally – I expected to be reading an article about preferences of consumers; however, the article was literal in its discussion of “taste”, as the article debated the marketing of food.

The article was interesting and one marketing implication takeaway I found especially insightful was the suggestion of encouraging consumers (possibly by contests/promotions) to upload photos of themselves consuming specific foods via social media – the idea, that the free consummatory advertising for the marketer.

Overall, though, I couldn’t get my initial idea out of my head – would images of other consumers influence “tastes” beyond food?  While the images wouldn’t be exactly “consummatory”, (i.e., a woman eating a slice of pizza), but rather a different type of “consumption” (i.e., an image of a woman using a specific brand of smartphone), would there still be a similar impact on the perceptions (tastes) of consumers?  Would an image of a consumer using a brand/service be more impactful than one of the brand/service standing alone?  I would think so – I need to do a search and look for other related research studies.

In customer experience assessments, we frequently evaluate perceptions of our brands and or services.  We currently view experiences as the main predictors of these perceptions.  It might also be interesting to consider the impact of advertising (specifically those with “endorsements”).  Such information could be helpful in not only promoting our brand, but also in evaluating and developing sales and promotional pieces.

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