Day 52: What if we could add value to a product just by changing the perception around it?

A post inspired by Rory Sutherland’s Ted talk “Life lessons from an ad man”

What if you could add value to a product by simply changing the perception floating around it? Ted speaker and advertising guru Rory Sutherland believes that it is entirely possible and backs up his stance with some pretty compelling case studies all wrapped up in an entertaining presentation.

change perceived value of a product by website confetti

My favourite type of Ted talks are the ones that use humour to get the message across. I just think think that humour is a great way to breakdown barriers whilst boosting engagement.   I’ve covered quite a few funny Ted talks so far such as “Do schools kill creativity” by Sir Ken Robinson which had me stifling giggles  in the middle of a shopping centre – one of the drawbacks of listening to Ted talks when I am out and about!  Rory Sutherland’s talk “Life lessons from an ad man” was just as funny.

Change perception not reality

   Rory says  that  changing a products perceived value can be just as gratifying and rewarding for a customer than the actual real value of a product.   So basically by altering the perception of a product we are able to create new possibilities for it such as 

  • Rebranding a product.
  • Making an existing product appear more desirable.
  • Adding a perceived higher financial value to a product.
  • Lowering a product’s perceived value (if that’s what we intend to do)

One case study Rory gives involves the Eurostar and a question given to engineers over 15 years ago which was, “How do we make the journey to Paris better?” The decided solution was to build some new tracks to shorten the trip by 40 minutes reducing a three-and-a-half hour journey to just under three hours. The cost of the new tracks was  six billion pounds. Loose change right?

Rory thinks they went about this wrong way and that they could have been a little more creative. Rather than changing reality, a perceived long train ride,  the Eurostar could have changed the experience of catching a trip on the train so  that the three-and-a-half hour journey seemed too short. Personally I hate public transport so shortening the trip would have won my vote, but I have to admit that Rory did give a pretty compelling alternative suggestio

The eurostar needs male and female supermodels to give out free Chateau Petrus

Cheekily Rory  suggested that the Eurostar should have employed the world’s leading male and female supermodels to walk the length of the train handing out free chateau petrus as this would have had people   requesting for the train to be slowed down .  What an  innovative way to change the perception of the journey’s duration being too long!

The lesson from Rory Sutherland’s Ted talk “Life lessons from an ad man”

Rory’s talk gave me a new perspective and understanding of advertising and how I should be approaching my own business.   Businesses are not marketing products or services but rather the experience that we associate with the product or the way that experience “buying that product” will make us feel. I need to remind myself of this with every new product launch and with every new marketing material that I create.

What lessons did you take away from watching Rory’s Ted talk? I would love to hear your perspective on it in the comments below.

Vanessa Rose