Do You Believe a Product’s Claim to Be ‘Improved’?

Familiarity breeds contempt, it’s said. And in the hyperbolic rhetoric of marketing, nothing’s more familiar than the boast that a product is “new and improved.” Is it any wonder, then, that consumers are skeptical of advertising that makes such a claim? In a nationwide survey conducted for Adweek by marketing research firm Alden & Associates of Hermosa Beach, Calif., 78 percent of respondents answered “no” when asked whether they believe an ad when it says a product has been improved. There was no gender gap to speak of on this issue, with men and women equally disbelieving. Despite the conventional wisdom that young adults are exceptionally hostile to sales pitches, a breakdown by age group found respondents in the 18-24 bracket the most receptive toward claims of improvement. Obviously, the generally high level of disbelief is good news for companies that have done nothing to improve their products, since it limits the disadvantage they would otherwise suffer vis-ˆ-vis competitors whose wares truly have been upgraded.

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