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News and Trends / Branding

Reaching for a Bucket of KFC? A New Study Shows You Might Be Lonely.

A new study explores how social isolation might make individuals turn to brands with faces on them.
Reaching for a Bucket of KFC? A New Study Shows You Might Be Lonely.
Image credit: Getty Images | Justin Sullivan
- Entrepreneur Staff
Staff Writer. Covers media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.
2 min read

We live in a constantly connected world, but if anything, that can sometimes compound feelings of loneliness. According to a recent study, if people are feeling socially isolated, it could make them more likely to buy brands that feature faces on their labels -- think the cheerful girl in the corner of a bag of Utz chips or KFC’s colonel on the side of a bucket of chicken.

The researchers from the University of Oregon and Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel in Germany made up a set of 18 fake advertisements, complete with brand names and slogans. They had a mixture of ads without faces and ones that clearly did have human faces. They then asked the participants a series of questions about how they felt about the brand, the images they were seeing and about themselves.

Related: 6 Ways to Combat 'Lonely Entrepreneur' Syndrome

The study found that if there was a face on the label, it was perceived as more likable than those brands that did not have that kind of image. And the lonelier and more isolated the participant professed to be, the stronger the positive feelings they had about that brand.  

In another experiment, the researchers presented the participants with 45 different wine brands that were ranked from one to seven based on how clear the image of the face on the label was. Once again, customers were more likely to be attracted to and want to purchase the bottle with the clearest faces.

Related: This Cure for Entrepreneur Loneliness Also Solves Procrastination

So the next time you start to feel those pangs of loneliness, before you reach for your wallet and the nearest face on the grocery store shelf, you might want to consider calling up a friend instead. Your bank account will thank you.

And, not to be too terribly cynical, but if you want to make your brand appealing, you might want to consider going with a logo or mascot that seems more human.

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