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EMAC 2019 Annual Conference

Two sides of the coin: Verbal sensory information and its impact on consumer responses – a meta-analysis covering positive as well as backfiring effects of verbal sensory information

Published: May 28, 2019


Elisabeth Steiner, Austrian Marketing University of Applied Sciences, Campus Wieselburg der Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt GmbH; Udo Wagner, University of Vienna


sensory marketing; verbal sensory information; amodal sensory information


Sensory properties of products, such as taste, respectively flavor, texture or smell, are of high relevance during the purchase and consumption of products. However, precisely these attributes can, as intrinsic properties, not be assessed by the consumer prior to purchase. Thus, consumers tend to rely on extrinsic cues in making their decisions. We propose that information regarding sensory properties of products may be coded in language and communicated as cognition; then representing an extrinsic cue. In the present paper, we focus on verbal sensory information. While several authors report positive effects of verbal sensory information, other studies reveal surprising results, providing evidence of unintended or even backfiring effects of verbal sensory information. Despite of the paramount importance of these contradictory findings, this topic is so far not approached systematically. Against this background, we present a meta-analysis of extant empirical work and discuss implications for further research.