(This article originally appeared in Entrepreneur)
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If you’re a small business owner and you’re spending money on advertising, you know all too well how important it is to get the most eyes for your dollars. That’s because whether you’re advertising online or even still in print media, you know that advertising is expensive and there’s a lot of competition for people’s attention.
That conclusion has come from research at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, University of South Carolina, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and was just published last month in the Journal of Marketing. According to the researchers, exposure to dogs and cats makes consumers subsequently more promotion-focused, meaning that consumers will become more eager to pursue a goal and take more risks when making a decision.
Researcher Lei Jia says, “These effects occur because pet exposure experiences remind consumers of the stereotypical temperaments and behaviors of pet species.” Translation: People love cute pets, they make them feel good.
Not surprisingly, the same works in reverse. Researchers also found that the same exposure to dogs and cats can make people more risk-averse if that’s what the advertiser is trying to accomplish. But be careful.
“Marketers should ensure that stereotypical pet temperaments are made salient in the message,” Jia says. “For example, the eagerness aspect of the dog or the cautiousness aspect of the cat should be highlighted. Otherwise, the intended effects of featuring pets in the ad may not be achieved.”
Researchers suggest that marketers can use dogs and cats to help people decide on stock investments, whether to purchase a car, or to help consumers make more conservative decisions like buying insurance. Associating a pet with a product or service just makes the product seem more nice and friendly.
Using a pet in your advertising is probably the least offensive thing one can do. Whereas some advertisers used to make risqué jokes when presenting to their audiences, they have now turned towards using funny photos of dogs and cats to keep the audience entertained — everyone loves dogs and cats.
People smile more when they see animals, and more importantly, they seem to buy more, too.