Price and utility

Jonah Lehrer, author of the celebrated How We Decide, describes an experiment suggesting a link between what something costs and how well we think it will work.

As it happens, the same experiment is described in the decidedly less-celebrated Buying In. But that’s not why I bring it up. I bring it up because an even more powerful demonstration of the same tendency was demonstrated in a more recent study involving the fictitious painkiller Veladone-Rx.

You might remember that if you’re a regular here, because that study was the inspiration for a 48-Hour T-Shirt. The T is no longer available, but the research description remains. It’s still one of my favorite studies ever (the upshot is that people found a placebo painkiller effective if it cost a lot — but not very effective if it was cheap).

For yet another discussion of how a higher price actually enhances consumer preception of utility, see this Murketing post about paying for garbage. (That post includes, though it is not quite about, a real-world example of prices and apparel that I think is harder to rebut than the ones Lehrer offers, but that’s just my bias.)

Thanks!

And that concludes the 48-Hour T-shirt Project, proudly sponsored by The Murketing Organization and Buying In.

Thanks to all who patronized, who linked, who told a friend. (If you’re interested in hearing should I launch a sequel of some kind, sign up here. And check your junk/spam folder for the double-opt-in.)

Even bigger thanks to the designers: Derek Black, Greg Eckler, and Angie Smith. Y’all were fantastic. Here are all three designs in one place. Click each shirt for an explanation of the research that inspired it.




48-Hour T-shirt No. 3: Veladone-Rx

You’ve read about the 48-Hour T-Shirt in Core77, PSFK, Design Observer, Coolhunting, Coudal, or We Are The Market. And now…


The third 48-Hour T-Shirt is now no longer available. That’s the design, above: White on a red American Apparel 4.3-ounce fine cotton athletic fit T.

I can’t name a favorite design from this project, since I loved them all, but since I came up with the ideas that inspired the designers, I think I’m allowed to say which one was, in my opinion, my best idea, and it’s this one:

Veladone-Rx is a made-up drug name used in an experiment about pricing and the placebo effect. You already know I have a thing for imaginary brands, so I’m particularly excited to offer you the opportunity to advertise this non-existent product drawn directly from — of all places — the world of behavioral psychology studies.

A summary of the research inspiring the design, below, is also available in PDF form, here.

This fictional pain-killing drug was part of an experiment conducted by Dan Ariely — the behavioral economics expert and the author of Predictably Irrational — and colleagues.

Subjects read a brochure explaining what a great painkiller Veladone is, and that it cost $2.50 a pill. After a dose, almost all subjects experienced less pain (from electric shocks). In reality, Veladone was merely Vitamin C. Here, then, was the placebo effect in action.

Then the experiment was repeated – this time a group of subjects were told that Veladone cost just 10 cents a pill. Under that circumstance, the result was much less impressive: Only about half the subjects experienced pain relief.

The moral, evidently, is that we get what we pay for – even when we’re just paying for a placebo.

Design by Angie Smith, MFA student in advertising design at Savannah College of Art and Design.

The T-shirt Veladone-RX is available until 10 a.m. Eastern, Wednesday December 17. Time’s up! Direct inquiries about your order to the designer directly, at: anchaline@gmail.com.

The aim of The 48-Hour T-shirt Project is to prod consumers to think more about our own behavior, about how we can be manipulated, and about how we manipulate ourselves. Yes, doing this by way of products may be seen as either ironic, clever, or hypocritical. That’s (part of) the point.

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The 48-Hour T-Shirt Project is proudly sponsored by The Murketing Organization, and Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, recently named one of the five top nonfiction books of 2008 by Salon; one of the 10 best business books of the year by Fast Company, and recommended by Core77 as one of its 77 gifts under $77.

48-Hour T-Shirt No. 2: “We Have The Same Birthday”

You’ve read about the 48-Hour T-Shirt in Core77, PSFK, Design Observer, Coolhunting, Coudal, or We Are The Market. And now…


.

The second 48-Hour T-Shirt is now no longer available. That’s the design, above: Two colors on a brown American Apparel 4.3-ounce fine cotton athletic fit T.

A summary of the research inspiring the design, below, is also available in PDF form, here.

A psychological study offers an interesting lesson in “false consensus.”

The research involved dividing into two groups; members of each were asked to read an essay about Rasputin, and then asked to evaluate their feelings about him. One group was given an essay that noted Rasputin’s correct birthday. The other was given the identical essay, but the date of his birthday was changed — to be the same day as that of the reader.

The latter (same birthday) group evaluated Rasputin notably more favorably than the control group did.

Mark R. Leary cites this research in The Curse of The Self, noting that if our opinions can be affected by such a “minor, egocentric matter,” it should be no surprise that “factors even more intimately related to our views of ourselves also influence our judgments of other people.”

So: Perhaps if you wear this T-shirt, you will make a good impression.

Design by Greg Eckler (www.theviciouscircus.com), MFA student in the graphic design department of Savannah College of Art and Design.

The T-shirt “I Show How You Feel” is no longer available. Time is up! Inquiries about your order: Please contact the designer directly, at: greckler@theviciouscircus.com.

The aim of The 48-Hour T-shirt Project is to prod consumers to think more about our own behavior, about how we can be manipulated, and about how we manipulate ourselves. Yes, doing this by way of products may be seen as either ironic, clever, or hypocritical. That’s (part of) the point.

Sign up to be notified via email when third and final design debuts on Monday, December 15, here.

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The 48-Hour T-Shirt Project is proudly sponsored by The Murketing Organization, and Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, recently named one of the five top nonfiction books of 2008 by Salon; one of the 10 best business books of the year by Fast Company, and recommended by Core77 as one of its 77 gifts under $77.

48-Hour T-shirt No. 1: Time expires tomorrow morning.

You’ve read about it in Core77, PSFK, Design Observer, Coolhunting, and Coudal.

Get on board the 48-Hour T-shirt train.

Your opportunity to buy the first T in the series — see it here, or simply scroll down a bit — expires in 12 hours, at 10 a.m. Eastern.

The next T debuts Monday December 8. Sign up to be notified here.

48-Hour T-Shirt No. 1: “I Show How You Feel”


The first 48-Hour T-Shirt is now no longer available. That’s the design, above: Three colors (metalic silver ink, black, flourescent green) on a gray American Apparel 4.3-ounce fine cotton athletic fit T. A summary of the research inspiring the design, below, is also available in PDF form, here.

This phrase was quoted in a recent paper by scholars researching the subject of mimicry and its role in the day-to-day marketplace.

One study, for instance, found that a waitress received larger tips when she “mimicked” customers by repeating orders verbatim, than when she paraphrased their orders. According to the researchers, being subtly mimicked “creates feelings of rapport, affiliation, and closeness toward the mimicker.”

The research was summarized in the April 2008 issue of The Journal of Consumer Research, in an article titled “Of Chameleons and Consumption,” which noted that prior studies suggested “that mimicry serves as an important communication tool, communicating to the person being mimicked that ‘I show how you feel.’” This newer research specifically explored “the effect of mimicry on consumption,” and how it might be used in, for instance, sales techniques.

Design by Derek Black, MFA candidate in the graphic design department of Savannah College of Art and Design (www.redneckillustrator.com).

The T-shirt “I Show How You Feel” is was available until 10 a.m. (Eastern) Wednesday, for $18 plus shipping. Order below.

The aim of The 48-Hour T-shirt Project is to prod consumers to think more about our own behavior, about how we can be manipulated, and about how we manipulate ourselves. Yes, doing this by way of products may be seen as either ironic, clever, or hypocritical. That’s (part of) the point.

(Please note that The Murketing Organization (that is, me, Rob Walker) does not make one thin dime from The 48 Hour T Shirt Project. All (100%) of the profits go to the student designers involved. In fact, your order goes directly to the designer, not to me.)

This T is no longer available. But feel free to direct fan mail or inquiries about your order to: derek@firehousedesigns.net.

Sign up to be notified via email when the next design debuts on Monday, December 8, here.

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The 48-Hour T-Shirt Project is proudly sponsored by The Murketing Organization, and Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are.

Do not skip this post: The 48 Hour T-Shirt Is Coming…!

NOTE: [Especially if you're coming to this link from Coolhunting: The first T is available NOW (until 10 a.m. eastern 12/3), go here. Or if you're too late for that be notified of the next one by signing up here, or just checking back at Murketing.com.]

Ladies and gentlemen … friends and enemies … readers and passers-by:

The Murketing Organization is extremely excited to announce The 48-Hour T-shirt project. (Download colorful and informative flier here.)

This project involves the creation of three T-shirts, each by a talented up-and-coming student designer. Each T will be for sale for precisely 48 hours, exclusively via Murketing.com.

T-shirts will be revealed and announced and made available for purchase on Monday December 1; Monday December 8; and Monday December 15.

Each design is inspired by actual academic research related to consumer behavior. That’s right! It’s a lesson in consumer behavior — and you can consume it! Ironic? Hypocritical? Or … fiendishly clever?

You decide. –> All T’s priced at this incredibly reasonable and affordable figure: $18.

I’ve seen the designs, and they’re all awesome. Stop by Murketing.com on the dates mentioned above, or sign up here to be notified when each design is revealed:

[ List services by Dada Mail ]

[Be sure to check your junk/spam folder -- this is a double opt-in list setup, so there's a confirmation step.]

Read all the details after the jump. But know this: All (100%) of the profits go to the student designers listed above.


The 48-Hour T-Shirt Project is proudly sponsored by The Murketing Organization, and Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are.

Additional details as follows:

Read more