Insight of the Week
September 29, 2023

Remove Humans From Product Images When Possible

A new study found that humans in product images reduce conversions because it triggers a lack of ownership. It's their product, not my product.

Removing a person from the product image for a blender

Overview

Should you display people in product images?

If customers need a human to assess quality (e.g., apparel, beauty, jewelry), then yes — include people in your images (see Hassanein & Head, 2005).

Otherwise, show products by themselves.

Across 10k+ Instagram photos, travel destinations received fewer likes if they showed somebody in the photo (Lu, Jung, & Peck, 2023). This effect reduced sales, too.

Why?

  • Lack of Ownership. It's their product. Not my product.
  • Contagion. Products seem inferior when other people touch them (Argo, Dahl, & Morales, 2006).
  • Less Unique. Customers feel less special buying this product.

Other takeaways:

  • Reduce Their Essence. If you can't remove somebody, try cropping their head.
  • Remove Symbolic Customers. To clarify, you can (and should) show images of service providers who don't represent the customer.
  • Important With Used Products. Used products seem inferior when customers see traces left behind by the previous owner (Kim, 2017).

Other New Studies

  • Left-Digit Effect Reduces Speeding - Prices seem cheaper when you reduce the left digit (e.g., $49). Turns out, this effect reduces speeding too (e.g., 49 km/h). Drivers are anchored to this lower numerical bracket (Rubaltelli et al., 2021).
  • Mobile Payment Notifications Increase Spending - South Korea tried to reduce overspending by sending a text message after every payment. But ironically, it increased spending. People no longer felt obligated to remember past transactions because they could delegate these memories to their device (Kim et al., 2023).
  • Touchscreens Satisfy the Need to Touch - Some people touch products to feel more confident in buying them. New research shows that touchscreens (vs. a traditional mouse) can satisfy this need (Hattula, Herzog, & Dhar, 2023).