What Is the Mere Exposure Effect?

How Does Mere Exposure Effect Apply to Marketing?

Henry Foster
Last updated: Aug 14, 2020
Originally published: Apr 11, 2019

Also Known As: The familiarity principle


The mere-exposure effect happens when customers have a preference for something, simply because they are familiar with it.

Mere Exposure Effect Examples:

Advertising: The mere exposure effect is the basis of branding and advertising. Research has been mixed on the effect of mere exposure positively or negatively affecting purchase behavior.

One study was done on college-aged students who were shown different banner ads while reading an article on the computer. Each group that was exposed to the "test" banner rated the advertisement better than any other ad shown less frequently or not at all.

However in another study, too much media exposure has been associated with lower reputations for companies, even when the exposure was overall positive.

A further study concluded that too much exposure led to conflicting feelings towards the company, which may have caused indifference. The thought is different positive and negative associations were created. The advertisement reached a saturation point of effectiveness, or "audience fatigue."

Mere exposure seems to work best for businesses that are new and unfamiliar to customers.

See Also: Illusory truth effect, Interpersonal attraction, Propinquity effect, Subliminal advertising

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Henry Foster

Henry Foster is a digital marketer from Boston, making money for B2B companies by generating leads via paid search and social.

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