“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a phrase that every little kid is told; unfortunately, we make snap decisions about the value of something all the time. How many times have you found yourself picking up an item to consider because the packaging was nicer than the less expensive version? From light bulbs at Home Depot to lipstick at Nordstrom, we’ve all been guilty of assuming the lightbulb with the nicer box must have a better glow to the lipstick in the nicer package will make it more pleasurable to swipe on and almost certainly last longer. The fact that the Tom Ford tinted lip balm costs $36 is irrelevant when you can whip out that beautiful white lacquer tube. (I know this because I bought one last night – and I’m pretty certain the $6 Neutrogena tinted lip balm in my handbag is the same color and more moisturizing.)
The packaging of these products aren’t just for fun, they’re designed to make you pick them up. “Try Me” buttons aren’t just to show you how bright a flashlight is, they’re designed to also get you to take the flashlight off the shelf and hold it in your hands. In fact, a 2008 study conducted by Ohio State University showed that if you hold something in your hands for 30 seconds or more, you’ll not only be more likely to buy it, you’ll consider it to have more value than the retail price four out of seven times.
“The amazing part of this study is that people can become almost immediately attached to something as insignificant as a mug,” said study leader James Wolf, who began the work while he was a graduate student at Ohio State. “By simply touching the mug and feeling it in their hands, many people begin to feel like the mug is, in fact, their mug. Once they begin to feel it is theirs, they are willing to go to greater lengths to keep it.”
Suddenly that light bulb, flashlight, or lipstick seems like a value at its retail price! Who cares about a sale when you’ve you have to have it right now.
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Read more about the study on LiveScience.