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Want a best-selling book or hit movie? You need this 1 key ingredient, says research

Blockbuster projects share one common trait.

Want a best-selling book or hit movie? You need this 1 key ingredient, says research
[Photo: KAL VISUALS/Unsplash]
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Do you dream of opening that blockbuster restaurant, writing a New York Times best-selling book, or releasing a chart-topping album? A new study out of Northwestern University suggests a pivotal ingredient.

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Researchers analyzed consumer reviews and sales of 1.6 million books, 2,400 movies, and 1,000 restaurants, as well as two years of Super Bowl ads. They found that high-star ratings actually predict less market success. (Le sigh.) But the reviews infused with emotionality correlate with high sales.

For example, a review saying, “This book is truly excellent” lacks emotionality; a review saying, “I lovvvve this book; I feel saddened for every human who has not yet read it” is full of emotion. This connection between the emotions a product triggers and its financial success is critical. The new research dovetails with findings last year from a study of popular brands, which revealed that consumers are most loyal to brands that trigger strong emotions of any variety—think puking during a Peloton class, crying on Tinder, or yelling at an infuriating Netflix character.

Emotional extremes go hand-in-hand with open wallets.

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In an interesting aside, the researchers suggest that since so many review systems are overwhelmed with five-star reviews (roughly 90% of Uber reviews are five stars), a parallel rating system of emotions would clarify customers’ true opinions: Was that Uber driver prompt and clean, or did you adore the car decorations? Did you find this article well done, or are you feeling optimism about your next blockbuster and heartfelt gratitude toward Fast Company? We feel the love too. Hugs.