Researchers from the University of British Columbia published a new research paper in Marketing Magazine It examines whether and how the use of “ugly” brands increases sales and profit margins.
The study, to be issued in Marketing Magazine, From Waste to Taste: How “Ugly Labels Can Increase Buying Unattractive Products,” by Sidhanth (Sid) Mukerji, Yann Cornell, and Joe Andrea Hogg.
According to a recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2020), American farmers annually grow up to 30% of their crops, equivalent to 66.5 million tons of edible products, due to cosmetic defects. This food waste has harmful consequences for the environment: 96% of food wasted is left to decompose in landfills, releasing methane and contributing to climate change. In addition, 1.4 billion hectares of land and 25% of the world’s freshwater are used to grow products that will be discarded.
These researchers seek to answer two important questions: 1) Why do consumers reject unattractive products? 2) Does “ugly” hashtag increase buying of unattractive products, and if so, why does it work? They discovered that consumers expect unattractive products to be less flavorful and, to a lesser extent, less healthy than attractive products, leading to their rejection. They also found that emphasizing aesthetic flaws by labeling “ugly” (for example, “ugly option”) can increase the purchase of unattractive products. This is because “ugly” labeling indicates an aesthetic defect in the product, making it clear to consumers that there are no defects in the product other than gravity. Consumers can also re-evaluate their dependence on visual appearance as a basis for judging the taste and health of a product; Their “ugly” labeling makes them aware of the limited nature of their spontaneous objection to unattractive products.
The research examines the effectiveness of “ugly” labeling in different contexts. First, a field study shows the effectiveness of “ugly” labeling. Mookerjee explains, “We sold unattractive and attractive products at the farmers’ market and found that consumers were more likely to purchase unattractive products rather than attractive products when unattractive products were rated as “ugly” compared to when unattractive products were not rated. In any specific way … the “ugly” labeling also resulted in greater profit margins compared to when the unattractive products were not rated in any specific way – a great solution for sellers to make a profit while reducing food waste. ” In the second study, participants were told that they could win a $ 30 lottery, and could either keep all the money or set aside some of the lottery winnings to buy either a box of attractive products or unattractive products. The “ugly” label increased the likelihood that consumers would use their lottery winnings to buy a box of unattractive products rather than attractive products.
In Studies 3 and 4, “ugly” labeling positively affected taste and health outlook, leading to an increased likelihood of selecting unattractive products over attractive ones. Study 5 examines how “ugly” labeling can change the effectiveness of price cuts. Usually, when retailers sell unattractive products, they offer 20% -50% off. “We have shown that“ ugly ”labeling works better with moderate price discounts (ie 20%) rather than steep price cuts (ie 60%) because a large discount indicates lower quality, negating the positive effect of“ ugly ” Ugly label. ” This is by simply adding an “ugly” label, retailers selling unattractive products can reduce these discounts and increase profitability.
The last two studies showed that labeling “ugly” is more effective than another popular label, “incomplete”. Although the word “incomplete” is used by major retailers and on the Internet, and preferred by the more than 50 grocery store managers who were interviewed, the researchers found that “ugly” labeling was more effective than “incomplete” labeling in generating Internet clicks ads.
Most importantly, these results largely contradict managers’ beliefs. “While grocery store managers believe in either not labeling products that are unattractive in any particular way or using” imperfect “labels, we are showing that” ugly “labeling is far more effective,” says Huig. Given retailers’ participation in the US Food and Waste Champions 2030 initiative – with the goal of halving food waste by 2030 (Redman 2018) – this research urges retailers and sellers to use “ugly” brands to sell unattractive products.
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