How to Market a Product’s Unexpected Benefit
Companies often discover that their product delivers unintended benefits. For example, popular beauty brand StriVectin found during product testing that their stretch-mark cream could also reduce wrinkles. Some of the prospective consumers who were handed the topical cream samples ended up using it as a facial moisturizer, claiming that it made them look ten years younger. A recent study found that Viagra unexpectedly reduced the risk of heart attack for patients with Type-2 diabetes. Botox, which was approved for cosmetic use in 2002, was unexpectedly found to alleviate migraines. Some companies find out about unintended benefits from customers’ reviews on sites like Amazon; for example users discussing Omega-3 pills purchased for cardiovascular health were found to be effective in softening skin, and a weight loss supplement was found to improve sleep. How should marketers tout these features?
Research has largely shown that consumers value a benefit more when they believe that a company intended it, compared with when they believe it was unexpectedly discovered. This is because consumers associate intentionality with higher effort, which they value more. This would indicate that marketers should describe unexpected features without calling them out as such.
Based on research in neuroscience, however, we hypothesized that unexpected benefits can also intrigue consumers, making them think that other surprises might be in store for them.