Which Of These Would You Use To Promote Indulgent Purchases?

Across four studies, and across a variety of product domains (e.g., food utensils, office supplies, and cookies), researchers found that promoting products with cute images of actual human infants (a.k.a., “kindchenschema”) was LESS EFFECTIVE in in producing desired consumer behavior than promoting products with “whimsically cute” images. Their research determined that the effect was due to kindchenschema priming ‘protection, responsibility, and vulnerability’, therefore inhibition from self-reward, while whimsical cuteness primed ‘fun’, therefore indulgence and permission for self-reward. Suggested Action: When using cuteness to promote purchase of indulgent-oriented products, consider choosing “whimsically cute” rather than “direct human infant cute” imagery.