Research Seminars

Placebo/Placui Effects Of Marketing Actions. Consumers Get What They Pay/Paid For

Speaker: Bram Van den Bergh
Marketing Department, Erasmus University Rotterdam

29 March 2012 - Room H006

Marketing actions can produce placebo effects. For instance, the efficacy of a product may decrease when the price of a product is lowered. The placebo effect results from consumers’ reliance on marketing activities to form expectations about product quality (e.g., “you get what you pay for”). However, when consumers learn about product efficacy through first-hand experience, the relative reliance on extrinsic aspects to evaluate product quality may decrease in favor of using intrinsic cues. In the present research, we investigate whether consumers continue to rely on information extracted from marketer controlled sources after product experience. In addition, we investigate to what extent the placebo effect persists over time. As the placebo effect is largely unconscious, (un)favorable product experiences may unknowingly sustain expectancies in subsequent product experiences. Current price promotions could therefore affect product efficacy at future consumption episodes. Across experiments, we obtain evidence for three variations on the placebo effect: a regular placebo effect, a tenacious placebo effect and a placui effect. The tenacious placebo effect suggests that current marketing activities may at times overrule expectations based on prior experience. The placui effect suggests that product performance is not only affected by current marketing actions, but by prior marketing activities as well. Therefore, we can conclude that consumers not only get what they pay for (placebo effect), but also that they get what they paid for (placui effect).

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