The Pseudo-Relevant 100% Effect
The term “100%” represents completeness or perfection. Thus, it is not surprising that marketers believe that claims that contain this term (e.g., “100% organic”) can make brands more appealing. This intuition is reflected in the extensive use of 100% claims to describe brands’ qualities. However, in four studies, we show that reliance on the assumption that consumers respond positively to 100% claims may backfire when these claims are pseudo-relevant. Pseudo-relevant 100% claims express a promise of completeness and, as such, appear to provide useful information; yet this information cannot be quantified and thus is unhelpful for the judgment at hand (e.g., “100% juice”). We compare the effects of actual pseudo-relevant 100% claims used by different brands to claims that were manipulated to include different numerical terms (e.g., 99%, 101%) or to exclude numerical terms. Our results show that pseudo-relevant 100% claims produce lower evaluations of brands and their customers, as well as lower consumption intentions than other claims. We further suggest that in pseudo-relevant 100% claims, the completeness or perfection implied by the brand claim is perceived as less measurable, and the claim might be perceived as meaningless and, therefore, as less appealing.