Using guilt to promote health
Shame and guilt have different effects on consumer buying habits, new research from the Desautels Faculty of Management in Canada finds.
Consumers who feel ashamed are best targeted by adverts that offer a ‘big picture’ solution, whereas those who feel guilty respond better to a smaller, short-term fix.
Carried out with Indiana University and the University of Washington into more than 250 consumer responses, the study offers conclusive proof that the effectiveness of advertising can be boosted by recognising the different influences that guilt and shame have on buying habits.
Professor DaHee Han says:
“To get the best response, a fitness club could produce an ad that induces shame and highlights the bigger picture, such as ‘Are you overweight? How ashamed do you feel? Stop overeating, join our fitness programme and feel healthy all the time'.
“If they wanted the best impact by inducing guilt, the ad should suggest a small scale commitment, such as ‘Overeating again? How guilty do you feel? Stop overeating and come to yoga classes once a week.’”