James Swift

21 February 2023

Strategist’s Digest: Slow-motion luxury 

Contagious digests the most interesting and relevant research from the world of advertising and beyond, because there’s just too much to read and too little time

When and How Slow Motion Makes Products More Luxurious 

By SungJin Jung and David Dubois. First published in the Journal of Marketing Research

Give it to me in one sentence.

Showing products in slow motion can make them seem more luxurious.

Give me a little more detail.

The researchers were interested to know whether using slow motion in video ads increased people’s perceptions of luxuriousness. To find out, they conducted 12 experiments, showing participants ads for chocolate, mineral water, wine and shampoo.

Participants shown the slow-motion ads consistently rated the products as more luxurious. The researchers theorise that it’s because slow-motion increases viewers’ feelings of immersion, which leads them to anticipate more pleasure from the thing being shown.

‘In other words,’ wrote the researchers, ‘immersed viewers expect greater hedonic value from the product or brand being spotlighted.’

These effects influence not just people’s expectations but also their experiences. In one experiment participants were invited to sample the wine they had seen in the ads, and those who had watched the slow-motion ad rated the drink itself as more luxurious.

People who self-declared as either very easily absorbed by video content or very resistant to absorption were less likely to perceive products in slow motion as more luxurious. The effect of slow motion on perceptions of luxuriousness was also weakened when the video was blurry or it spent a long time buffering.

Slow motion video also had a small effect on people’s purchase intentions and on how much they were willing to pay for a product, as well as on click-through rates. But the researchers discovered that they could triple the size of the effect on purchase intent by telling participants to imagine that they were in the mood to splurge on a treat for themselves. So, slow motion may be especially effective on consumers who have a specific goal to treat themselves to something luxurious.

Why is this interesting?

It seems like a fairly reliable and easy way to increase perceptions of luxuriousness. And even if the effects of slow-motion on things like purchase intent are small, they can become meaningful at the large scales in which online video operates.

One thing to note is that this effect of slow motion on perceptions of luxuriousness only seems to apply to ads that just show products in slow motion – chocolate crumbling, wine swirling in a glass, etc. An earlier study found that when people watched a video ad of a person eating a product in slow motion, they felt like it was trying too hard to persuade them, and they were consequently more negative about the brand.

Any weaknesses?

One limitation mentioned by the authors was that all of the products included in the study had at least some luxury potential. We therefore don’t know if this effect works for less hedonic goods.

Where can I find the whole report?

Here, but it’s not free.

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