November 3, 2022Marketing

#11: On Product Promises and the Placebo Effect

10 minutes past seven tonight, my boyfriend and I dropped by at the nearest 7/11 store to quench our thirst.

While scanning for options, a set of beverages caught my attention.

They're called Vitamin Boost by suncoast.

They come in pretty colors and with different functions: there's one to combat stress (the one I bought), another to give your skin an all-day glow, a flavor to boost your immunity, one to boost your energy, and another to support healthy vision.

These drinks reminded me of a Grey's Anatomy episode where Meredith tampered with a clinical trial for Alzheimer's by giving her patient a real drug instead of a placebo.

WebMD defines placebo as "anything that seems to be a "real" medical treatment—but isn't. It could be a pill, a shot, or some other type of "fake" treatment. What all placebos have in common is that they do not contain an active substance meant to affect health."

The placebo effect has its critics and believers, but more studies are being done to affirm how the power of the mind can heal and work together with the body.

Back to the beverages

Got convincing copy and great design? Never mind the nutrition facts.

With the bright colors and rosy promises of better health conveyed on Vitamin Boost bottles, it's easy to believe that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to achieve your desired effect—may it be healthier skin, vision, or increased energy and immunity.

Honestly, I felt healthy and stress-free after a few sips! 🥤

My realization:

Health and wellness products with well-crafted brand identity are like placebos; they may or may not truly have what it takes to get the advertised job done, but they sell like crazy simply because people believe.


P.S. Here's an interesting read on the origin story of the placebo effect (and how it might be just another legend)

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Hi, and thanks for reading! I'm Kishly, a cheerleader of creatives and copywriter turned marketing strategist. Bookmark this blog to read my daily atomic essays on marketing, compassionate productivity, creative living, and lifelong learning. Or subscribe to Process, my weekly-ish newsletter for young adults (and the young at heart) in pursuit of wisdom and wonder. ✨

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