I'm walking around the grocery store. As I turn the corner of Aisle 5, I'm greeted by a store employee handing out food samples. I'm not feeling particularly hungry but it looks really good...some kind of trail mix...with chocolate in it. Yum. I decide to indulge. It's pretty tasty. A few minutes later I'm craving something sweet and crunchy. I'd love some more of that trail mix and perhaps a vanilla latte to wash it down with. Suddenly I'm browsing the snack aisle and looking for tasty treats to fill my basket.
To a bunch of Stanford Graduate School researchers, this makes perfect sense. A recent consumer sampling study they conducted debunks a popular theory that sampling staves off hunger. Conversely, it actually sparks cravings and desires for highly pleasurable items. In fact, these clever researchers would not be surprised if I suddenly began fantasizing about decadent, unrelated things like sunning myself on the Italian Rivera or sinking my tired toes into a white chocolate pedicure at Bliss spa.
The study involved two groups of people. One group received a sweet drink sample and the other, nothing. Then they were invited to watch a movie in a room filled with drinks and snacks. Those who had the pre-movie sample ate and drank more than the non-sampler group. In addition, further tests (after the movie) revealed that the samplers had a much greater desire than the non-samplers for various consumer goods and services.
This is great news for retailers... but probably not for "free snack" lovers watching their waistlines or trying to save money.
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