In direct marketing, which sells better – a message of gratitude, or a message of obligation?
That’s exactly what researchers set out to study when they exposed subjects to direct mail copy in a controlled test.
As reported by Print In the Mix, “The authors used a scenario of a small winery sending direct mail (follow-up postcards) to tasting room visitors. Wine was chosen because its consumers are frequently described as having emotional attachment and relatively high product involvement.”
Six postcards were used, all with an identical design but different messaging. Two focused on gratitude, two had a heavy element of consumer obligation, and two were neutral in their wording.
According to the researchers, gratitude wins.
“Gratitude consistently yield[ed] more positive scores, followed by the neutral control message, and then obligation,” report the study’s authors.
The data also showed that the test consumers were left with a better overall impression of the winery after viewing the gratitude messages than the other two types.
Interestingly, a sense of gratitude played better to older participants, while the younger ones seemed a bit more compelled by obligation. Maybe we learn to appreciate the finer things in life as we age, and are less motivated by social pressure? Could be.
Either way, it’s interesting to note that, for the most part, nobody likes to be told what they “should” do. That goes for direct mail too, so think carefully as you write your next campaign. You might be turning folks off without even trying!