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October 15, 2013
COLOGNE, GermanyAdvertisers depend on repetitive messages to reach consumers, which prompt the brain to inner articulate the message and develop familiarity with the product or brand. However, chomping on popcorn or other snack foods affects the brain's ability to hold onto these repetitive messages, decreasing the effectiveness of advertising, according to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
Researchers at the University of Cologne discovered chewing on popcorn interrupts the psychological mechanism that makes consumers remember names or products seen during advertisements.
Each time consumers encounter a person or product name, the lips and the tongue automatically simulate the pronunciation of that name. This is referred to as "inner speech," and happens unknowingly and without actual mouth movements. If the inner speech is disturbed, for instance while chewing gum or whispering another word, the articulation of words cannot be trained and the repetition of the name is not recorded.
In the study, participants were invited to a real movie theater and presented a block of commercials followed by a movie. The commercials were for existing products, but for products unfamiliar to the German participants.
Half of the participants received popcorn to eat freely during the cinema session. The other half only received a small sugar cube at the beginning of the session so that they also had some sweet taste experience. The sugar cube dissolved quickly, allowing the mouth muscles to move during the commercials and movie.
One week following the movie, participants were presented with images of the products, only half of which had been advertised in the session. They were then asked to indicate products they liked, and their physiological responses were measured. Those participants who had only received a sugar cube and could thus internally train the brands articulation demonstrated that there was a clear advertising effect. They preferred advertised products and also showed positive physiological responses of familiarity for advertised products. However, those participants who had eaten popcorn while watching the commercials one week before showed no such advertising effect.
Results concluded chewing on the popcorn disturbed the inner speech that makes brands or products in advertising familiar, therefore reducing the effect of advertising. This research may make popcorn a new consumer favorite, as now it not only contributes to weight loss, but can also help tune out commercials.
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