Simple Slogans Double Sales

Walmart logo with slogan

We think of brands as amazingly powerful. People prefer whatever cola they are drinking, as long as it’s labeled Coca Cola. People pay lots more for a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt than a generic shirt of identical quality. And while the brand rarely changes, slogans are treated as ephemeral and tend to be changed much more frequently. But, to resurrect an old Coke motto, what if a brand’s slogan was the REAL thing?

Think of a brand that is all about saving money… how about Walmart? Surprising research shows that consumers exposed to the Walmart name might actually spend less than those exposed to the store’s current slogan, “Save money. Live better.” This curious finding was replicated with other stores and slogans by a team of researchers from Miami, Hong Kong, and Berkeley.

The experiment divided subjects into two groups. Half were exposed to brand names associated with saving money, like Walmart, Dollar General, Sears, Ross, etc. The other half were exposed to the slogans for those retailers, like Sears’ current motto, “The Good Life at a Great Price. Guaranteed.” When asked to visualize a shopping trip and describe how much money would be spent, the brand-exposed group spent an average of $94 vs. the slogan group, who spent just about twice as much: $184.

A second study found that exposing consumers to a “savings” message caused them to spend more than when they saw a “luxury” message. The authors of the paper, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found this counterintuitive and perhaps worrisome:

Companies may be trying to attract customers with slogans associated with saving money, but in fact, this strategy may make consumers spend more money than they would if they had not been exposed to the slogans.

Of course, most retailers won’t be overly troubled by this incongruity. They push savings-oriented slogans not out of concern about excess consumer spending, but rather to increase their own sales and gain market share.

Your Savings Slogan

I’d like this study more if it had been conducted with real money in real stores. But, the findings suggest that a savings-oriented slogan might be a way to boost sales. Most of us ARE willing to spend more if we think we are getting a deal (like that gallon of mayo in your fridge dating back to a Sam’s Club trip two years ago).

Perhaps we haven’t been giving slogans enough credit for conveying a savings message. (Walmart, no slouch at building sales, apparently believes in the power of slogans – unlike many retailers, they build their slogan into their logo!) The Neuromarketing takeaway: have a consistent savings message, and repeat it frequently!

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— who has written 956 posts on Neuromarketing.

Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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8 responses to "Simple Slogans Double Sales" — Your Turn

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Alexandre 25. April 2011 at 7:40 am

Yes, I like this post. And it remembered me a slogan from a campain from a mall here in Brazil: “Nobody gets rich spending as a rich”. I loved this phrase, and it keeps in my mind. Cheers.

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Wes Man 2. May 2011 at 1:01 am

I believe this is something very related to a niche. Here is my observation:

Walmart is famous for the competitive pricing. People, who are buying there, are vulnerable to cost. Such slogans have big impact on them, since they are tuned to this wave. When they hear about discount and stuff like that, it’s most likely they will start listening.

However, if the market is another kind, where people are mostly affected by different factors, such slogans must be adapted for that.

My bet is that people considering buying S-class or similar rank of car, won’t care so much of the cost as they would about something else, like safety, reliability, comfort and so on. I.e. if you’re going to pay $100k, “save money” won’t get you on the other side of the edge ;)

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Jon 8. May 2011 at 1:33 pm

This is very interesting, and I am certainly going to do some testing on this. I am trying to undercut the market in what I do. It worked well for Richard Branson and Walmart, so hopefully I can make it work too!

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Sprezzatura 17. May 2011 at 4:52 pm

Eh, isn’t this this just to do with what is going on in the real world? High unemployment, inflation, static wages = people save money.

Aldi and Lidl are two discount supermarkets in the UK and have gained considerable share from more upmarket brands over the last 12 months.

Neither of them even have a slogan.

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OSeñorita 18. June 2011 at 1:22 pm

This post is something that made me pause and think about my shop’s slogan. I think slogans really help people to remember a brand and as a newbie marketer this is something that I’ve been trying to make use of as well.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I’ll be subscribing to your email newsletter from here on. :D

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Gerardo 30. June 2011 at 4:21 pm

Walmart in Mexico has different name and brands and keeps their policy of “Always low Prices” so we could say that their sales are more or less constant during the year (without december) while another retailer called Comercial Mexicana, for about 30 years has launched a promotion in July when they usually offered promotions like 3 X 2 or 2 X 1 (their prices are more expensive than Walmart) so people usually get out of the store with a lot of products they don’t need or didn’t think to buy and the average sales of the company on that particular month increases to represent about 14% of the sales of the year. As the post says when people thinks they are getting a bargain the spend more.

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Roger Dooley
Twitter: rogerdooley
30. June 2011 at 4:26 pm

That’s an interesting strategy, Gerardo. US stores run periodic promotions of that type, but not of the magnitude that would generate 14% of sales in a normally weak month. Have heard of brands doing similar things to mess up product launches by competitors; load customers with many months of product, and the competitive launch falls flat.

Roger

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Gridlock 11. February 2013 at 1:39 pm

SEARS
“The Good Life at a Great Price. Guaranteed.”

PROBLEMS? Yep. “Great” can also mean “BIG” “HUGE” “LARGE”. So what is being implied is not always what the customers read or hear.

“The Good Life at a BIG Price. Guaranteed.”
“The Good Life at a HUGE Price. Guaranteed.”
“The Good Life at a LARGE Price. Guaranteed.”

Granted it could also mean:
“The Good Life at a ABOVE NORMAL Price. Guaranteed.”
“The Good Life at a DISTINGUISHED Price. Guaranteed.”
“The Good Life at a EXCELLENT Price. Guaranteed.”

Time for SEAR’s marketing board to buy a dictionary and a book of synonyms, because they don’t appear to be using one now.

GREAT

Adjective
Of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average.

Noun
A great or distinguished person.

Adverb
Excellently; very well.

Synonyms
grand – big – large – high

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