Spring is coming and, indeed, this weekend marks the start of British Summer Time, which is traditionally also a good period for those marketing luxury brands to men. Studies have found that Google searches for luxury products increase as daylight hours get longer, peaking in mid-June with the longest day. The effect is particularly strong when it comes to those brands associated with attracting the opposite sex, such as after shave and cologne.
The reason behind this spike in male interest for such products lies in our evolutionary past. For a whole host of reasons, from climatic conditions to simple safety, conception rates across the world are highest in the Summer months and lowest in the Winter, a phenomenon directly linked to daylight hours, known more formally as the photoperiod effect in evolutionary psychology. Males are especially sensitive to this environmental cue of fertility and unconsciously respond more favourably to brands tapping into this bias in their marketing content.
Photoperiod effects are very easy to demonstrate experimentally. El Hazourri (2016) and his colleagues, for instance, found that simply priming experimental participants with sentence completion tasks relating to the seasons enhanced men’s subsequent evaluations of luxury products, but had no significant impact on women. My own work has found similar results in relation to advertising, as depicted in the accompanying illustration. Both mock ads for Boss after shave were rated positively by both male and female participants, but the ad on the left had a markedly stronger effect on males in the study due to its mid-day sun background image.
So there we are… Want to sell more of a luxury product to men? Just make sure the image you used was taken in daylight, especially if your product is associated with attracting a mate!