Consumers can instinctively tell the difference between fake smiles on packaging and adverts and the real thing, according to startling new research by one of Europe’s leading shopping behaviour specialists.

smileThe latest research by Staffordshire-based SBXL reveals that people can easily and subconsciously spot the difference between genuine smiles and fake smiles, and that a fake smile can actually have a negative effect on product sales.

The research, being carried out by SBXL on behalf of a leading healthcare chain, showed that consumers were statistically more likely to select products which showed or were promoted with genuine smiles.

SBXL’s managing director Phillip Adcock said there was behavioural science evidence which supported the research findings.

“When we pretend to smile all that happens is that the cheek muscles contract so the corner of the mouth moves outwards. In a genuine smile, on the other hand, it really does show in our eyes,” he said.

He added, “Our study has demonstrated that fake smiles have a negative impact on sales. In an experiment we changed a photograph on half of the products from a fake smile to a genuine one. This resulted in consumers having a choice between two products which were identical apart from the smile the model was pulling in the photograph. This small change had a significant impact on consumer behaviour, with people choosing the genuine smile nearly every time.”

The research was carried out jointly with School Of Psychology at Bangor University with whom SBXL has a link-up to study how psychological and neuroscience research can help supermarkets and brands understand consumer decision making.

SBXL, with offices in Lichfield and Tamworth, is a leading retail research firm, combining state-of-the-art technology with a detailed knowledge of human psychology. As well as regular shopper tracking, the company provides retailers and brands with in-depth insights, using techniques such as in-store filming to capture behaviour, The company also provides detailed studies of facial expressions and non-verbal communication to identify sub-conscious decision-making processes, and eye-tracking to determine what shoppers see in-store.

The company – which featured on Gloria Hunniford’s BBC programme “Rip-Off Food” – works with leading retailers and brands across Europe, North America and the Far East.

Shopping Behavior Xplained Ltd

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