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Marketers can heat up sales with icy backdrops

cold car
Cars were more appealing when placed against a cold backdrop.

With the turn of the season, a wave of advertisements featuring frosty backdrops are appearing on Australian screens.

But new research involving Bond University suggests advertisers may want to consider using chilly scenes all year round to boost sales.

Researchers found that background imagery associated with coldness, such as snowflakes and frost, make products seem fresh and new in consumers’ minds. 

But the effect is only seen with product styles that are modern, rather than antique, and when the purchase is planned in the distant future. 

Associate Professor of Marketing Rajat Roy said the findings may be useful to sell products in which novelty tends to provide a competitive advantage.

“A wide range of products like a car, sneakers, smartwatch and table lamp were used across four experiments,” Dr Roy said.

“Any modern product that engages futuristic design and technology may benefit from cold background imagery. 

“One of the products tested was a modern-looking table lamp and, given that furniture companies such as IKEA tend to design modern and contemporary looking products, it can work for this industry.”

The experiments were conducted in Japan, with 740 people asked to rate the perceived temperature and newness of products against a background of warm or cold imagery.

The use of Japanese consumers might have had an impact on the findings.

“Information processing style can differ across cultures,” Dr Roy said.

“Eastern cultures tend to focus more on background imagery, for example snowing in the background, while Western culture pays attention to the focal object - the car shown in the advert.

“This can make the effect reported in the research more pronounced in Eastern cultures such as Japan, compared to the West.”

Dr Roy, from the Bond Business School, said future research would examine if warm ad imagery could invoke nostalgia among consumers.

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