The Charm of Three: How people process positive claims in persuasion messages

Tweet How many positive claims should firms use to produce the most favorable impression of a product or service? Despite the logic that more positive claims about an object should lead to better impressions, a recent study found that when people are faced with messages they know are made to persuade (like most marketing communications), they have limited patience for positive claims. Let’s look closer at the study comparing the effects of different numbers of positive claims in messages with persuasive intent, and the consequences in terms of consumer attitudes toward the object when messages include more than three such claims.   The Study In January 2014, professors Suzanne B. Shu, UCLA Anderson School of Management, University of California, and Kurt A. Carlson, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, published the results of a series of experiments analyzing consumer perceptions of positive claims in advertising contexts. It’s not a new idea that three is an important number for perceived completion. People generally perceive that three claims are sufficient to draw a conclusion about an object. The average consumer and average industrial buyer typically believe that a set of three options constitute a complete consideration set.  As the above vintage Philips ad illustrates, advertisers have been using the power of the three claim model for decades, at least. However, Shu and Carlson are the first to put “the charm of three” principle to empirical test in a marketing messaging context. They hypothesized that consumers would look increasingly favorably at up to…
Source: Marketing Experiments
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