Sam Walton on expectations

"High expectations are the key to everything."

A $90 bottle of wine really does taste better than a $10 bottle - even when it's really a $10 bottle in disguise.  A study by researchers at the California Institute of Technology found that higher prices prime the brain to expect pleasure, changing what people actually experience. 

The researchers asked 20 subjects to taste a selection of wines.  When wine drinkers sipped a $5 bottle of wine, they rated it much higher when it was disguised with a $45 price tag.  Drinkers also enjoyed a $90 bottle much more than when it was priced at $10.  Brain scans showed that the pleasure centers of the wine drinkers' brains lit up when they saw the high price, so that their tongues mistook value for quality.

Neuroscientist Antonio Rangel sums it up for Science this way: "Subjects believe that more expensive wines are likely to taste better.  These expectations end up influencing their actual experience." Expectations prime choices and experiences.  People's expectations of how good an experience is going to be affect how much pleasure they believe they will experience and, subsequently, how much pleasure they actually derive from it.

I've been saying it over and over and over again: A brand is not a promise, it is an expectation!  Do you understand why now? Packaging, pricing, people, buildings, lighting, advertisements, all affect how the brain assesses "value."  Do you understand what expectations your audience is creating about you and your brand?  Do you know how to influence those expectations?  Do you understand that expectations change? Do you know how to monitor those changing expectations?