Blog post by Cherrie Lam
Next time you watch a horror film, you may find yourself feeling significantly more fond of a brand than ever before.
According to a UBC marketing study, people watching scary movies alone develop a greater emotional attachment to their surrounding products, like the can of soda or the magazine sitting on the table in front of the TV.
In “The Impact of Fear on Emotional Brand Attachment,” recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Sauder PhD candidate Lea Dunn and Associate Professor JoAndrea Hoegg argue that the emotion of fear breeds greater brand attachment than any other emotion, including happiness and sadness.
To explain, human beings seek connection when feeling scared. When there are no other individuals around, brands can fill this void. “[Fear] motivates… a desire to share the experience with others. The presence of the brand can satisfy this motivation, essentially taking the place of an interpersonal other,” Dunn and Hoegg write.
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Even when the consumer is not interacting with the brand, the emotional relationship could still be developed. Take, for instance, a man watching a scary movie with a bag of chips in his presence; even without touching or eating the chips, he will still feel psychologically closer to that brand of chips after the scare, and be more inclined to buy those chips in the future.
Previously, marketers have avoided using fear to boost sales, not wanting to create negative emotional associations with their brand names. However, with this new research, advertisers will be looking to put their brands in scary movies to induce greater sales.
When enjoying horror movies in the future, perhaps the scariest thing to really watch out for isn’t the shadowy figure lurking in the bathroom, but the sneaky product placement in the corner instead.