Washington, Feb 12 : A touch of art not only adds a shimmer to your drawing room, it can also add appeal to consumer related products.
A new study at University of Georgia has revealed that even a fleeting exposure to art makes consumers evaluate products more positively.
The study by Henrik Hagtvedt and Vanessa M. Patrick is a ground-breaking attempt to systematically demonstrate how visual art influences consumer perceptions.
The researcher duo has affirmed that science may be used to improve the understanding of art.
"Art has connotations of excellence, luxury and sophistication that spill over onto products with which the art is associated. We call this the 'art infusion effect.' It does not stem from the content of the artwork, that is, what is depicted in the artwork, but from general connotations of art itself," said Patrick, an assistant professor at the UGA Terry College of Business.
"Visual art has historically been used as a tool for persuasion. It has been used to sell everything from religion to politics to spaghetti sauce to the artist's image. It's about time we develop a scientific basis to understand how it actually works. It appears that for the average viewer a prototypical artwork represents a quest for excellence that goes beyond anything strictly necessary. An association with fine art therefore gives products an aura of luxury," said Hagtvedt, who is himself a critically acclaimed visual artist.
The researchers started to investigate the art infusion phenomenon by means of three studies.
For the first study, they posed as waiters at a local restaurant and showed 100 patrons sets of silverware in black velvet boxes. The top of the box had either a print of Vincent Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night or a photograph of a similar scene. It was found that after just a brief exposure to one of the images, the diners rated the silverware in the box with art as more luxurious.
In the second study, it was found that in conveying a luxury appeal, a relatively unfamiliar artwork could successfully compete with a famous celebrity.
The third study suggested that the content of the specific artwork was not necessarily important; however, general connotations of art matter. In fact, even a painting of a burning building on the face of a soap dispenser resulted in the soap dispenser being perceived as luxurious.
"Consumers are constantly being bombarded by advertising messages, and the fact that something works despite the noise that exists in a retail environment is very valuable for marketers. This works. We've tried it both in the laboratory and in a real-world setting," said Patrick.
"The art infusion effect is based on the human ability to recognize the creativity and skill involved in artistic expression. It's a universal phenomenon, and it stands out, even with all the stimuli competing for attention in contemporary society," said Hagtvedt.
The researchers say that art is a uniquely powerful marketing tool because its effects are independent of its contents. According to them, celebrities may appeal to only certain segments of the population and their popularity may depend on the latest movie or fashion shoot, but art is universally recognized and timeless.
The study results also show that the art infusion effect, contrary to popular wisdom, even works for everyday, non-luxury items.
"The products that we used in our studies were relatively ordinary items such as silverware, soap dispensers and bathroom fixtures - clearly not product categories you would typically associate with art, indicating the possibility of a broad use of art in marketing," said Patrick.
The study is published in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Marketing Research.