No.28 Mere Exposure Effect & Shopping Sustainably

No.28 Mere Exposure Effect & Shopping Sustainably

The importance of understanding this cognitive bias cannot be underestimated.

The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them.

Robert Zajonc tested the mere-exposure effect on 1000s of subjects. Some of his tests were verbal and some auditory. For example, he tested how people responded to nonsense words like zebulons or worbus. The more often these words were repeated to the subjects, the more favourably they responded to them.

In other tests, he showed subjects symbols that looked like Chinese characters but were actually complete nonsense. The more often the subjects were exposed to the nonsense characters, the more likely they were to have positive feelings toward them.

In retail, whether it be bricks and mortar or ecommerce, the mere exposure effect can be a powerful ally to your sustainability activities.

Repeat, repeat, repeat 

The more you feature your environmental USP, talk about your green USP, rave about your sustainability related USP and display your best Earth-friendy USP, the more familiar shoppers and consumers will become.

Frequent trialling

The more frequently a product been tasted, for example, the better it was liked.

Data and mere exposure

Make sure that you understand the limitations of big data and Web analytics. When looking at sales performance data, don’t forget to factor in the mere-exposure effect (How much have shoppers been exposed to your sustainability messaging, for example).

By understanding what the mere-exposure effect is and how it works, your brand can develop a significant, sustainability related advantage. More exposure leads to familiarity, which leads to comfortability, which leads to more brand preference and sustainable shopping.

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About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

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Phillip Adcock

Phillip Adcock CMRS
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

Phillips Signature

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