A woman shopping at an organic health food store market reads a product label.
Consumers are more likely to choose products that are marketed as having been updated or improved. Use market research and product upgrades to stand out in a crowded market. — Getty Images/Hispanolistic

No matter what you sell, you may believe that your customers are more likely to choose your products if you make significant improvements to them. The reality, however, is that this isn’t always the case. In a study by Harvard Business School, there were two selfie sticks: a short one and a long one. It’s no surprise that most people chose the long one initially.

However, when the short selfie stick was labeled “newer,” twice as many people chose it, despite the fact that everything else about the selfie stick remained the same. This shows that customers are naturally drawn toward products that are “updated” or “newer,” even if they aren’t necessarily better.

Researchers performed another study in which gummy bears were labeled as “updated.” Participants stated that the “updated” gummy bears tasted better, even though there was no difference between this version and the “original” one. Consumers simply assume that the newer or updated product is superior, especially if they’re not familiar with it.

While it's tempting to add the words 'updated' on your product labels, only do so if you've actually made substantial upgrades.

While it may be tempting to add the words “updated” on your product labels, professors at Harvard Business School recommend that you refrain from doing so unless you’ve actually made substantial updates. If consumers are familiar with the types of products you sell, the “updated” label might not mean much to them, as they are more likely to look for more objective attributes.

Here’s how to truly improve your products and accurately market them as updated or newer to attract more customers:

  • Add new features: If you enhance your product with new features, do some market research beforehand. Find out which new features your customers will value. Otherwise, your efforts may backfire.
  • Improve existing features: By enhancing your product’s existing features, you can encourage customers to use your products more frequently or open your products up to a broader audience. Regularly enhancing your products can also build customer satisfaction and loyalty.

In addition to updating your labeling, announce any updated products on your website, in blog posts, emails, and at in-person locations if you have them. You can also publish press releases and articles on third-party websites.

By regularly surveying your customers to determine how your current offerings can be improved, implementing those changes, and updating your marketing and public relations messaging, you can build a strong, loyal following while improving your bottom line.

Learn more: [Reinventing Retail: 'Retail-as-a-Service Firm' b8ta Drives New Approach to Product Innovation]

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