Scary health warnings can boost sales

05 November 2013

Highlighting the risks of a behavior—smoking or taking a medication, say—ought to make people think twice about using a product. But a series of experiments conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School, USA reveals that sometimes just the opposite is true. A warning label can increase a product’s appeal. This happens when there’s a lag between delivery of the message and a decision about buying, consuming, or assessing the product. Why? The mere inclusion of a warning builds trust, because consumers feel that the seller is being honest—and over time that trust becomes more prominent, while the substance of the warning fades (News Item Harvard Business School, October 2013).
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Click here for a paper about the research (467 kB).

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