Why results are not the only numbers you need to know about!
Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a superstitious person – but you can’t always market to people who think and feel exactly as you do!
There are many superstitions and positive or negative associations with numbers – so it’s worth thinking about how you use numbers and how your target market might perceive them.
1: The number ‘one’ is associated with first – so can be useful if you’re positioning a product or service as the best or premier. It’s also the number associated with unity – 'we are one'.
3: In Christian countries, the number three can have positive associations. These go back to the trinity and has led to the belief that ‘all good things come in threes’. There is also a well-known principle (the rule of three) that suggests that grouping things (images, lists, slogans) into threes makes them more memorable and easy to remember.
4: In China, four is considered to be unlucky, as it sounds similar to the Chinese word for death. However, in many Anglo-Saxon communities, four is considered to be quite lucky – with the four-leafed clover being the ultimate symbol of good luck!
5: Five is a number that has associations with nature in many culture (five fingers and toes) but also with the occult (pentagrams). In Islam, five is a sacred number – there are five pillars of Islam, prayers are said five times each day and there are five categories of Islamic Law. Five is another odd number that can work well in advertising – a list of five different bullet points or proof points not only looks good, but is also is still small enough to remember.
7: In Christian countries, the number seven is considered lucky. The bible said that the world was created in 7 days. There are also 7 days of the week, 7 notes in a harmonic octave, seven seas, 7 wonders of the world and 7 ages of man. There are, of course, also 7 deadly sins, and if you break a mirror, you’re in for 7 years of bad luck! You’ll see more listicles with 7 items than any other ('7 habits of highly effective people', '7 things you should do before you die' etc.). This is because 7 is an odd number (easier to remember), and sits in the perfect spot: not large enough for the list to seem daunting, but large enough to seem like it will add value!
8: In Chinese cultures, the number 8 is considered to be lucky because it sounds like the word for ‘wealth’. I won’t go into the myriad of weird and wonderful stories about the uses of the number but suffice it to say if you have a product or offer or business that includes the number 8, you may have a big advantage with the Chinese market.
9: Again, in Chinese culture, nine has positive associations because it sounds similar to the word meaning 'long-lasting'. However, in Japanese, the word for 9 sounds like torture or suffering, so is not a great number to employ if you’re looking to engage this market.
13: Many people believe the number 13 to be unlucky. There is even a name for them 'Triskaidekaphobes'. It is likely to be related to the Christian stories of the last supper (there were 13 people in attendance, and Judas, the 13th, betrayed Christ). There are also said to be 13 witches in a coven – and there are many wide-spread popular culture references – films like ‘Friday the 13th’. This superstition is so widely held that many buildings in America lack a 13th floor. However, in Italy, the number 13 is considered to be lucky as it is associated with St. Anthony, the patron saint of finding lost people and things; the ancient Mayan and Hebrew calendars had 13 months; and in medieval theology, 13 was considered a lucky number as it was the number of the commandments added to the trinity!
This is just an overview of the meanings of different numbers. It’s always worth doing some research about particular numbers before you use them – especially if you’re trying to target a specific cultural market segment!
If you’d like any help with your market research, please get in contact with Atomic Tangerine!
Founder & Growth Catalyst