Did you ever hear of the sweaty t-shirts attraction test?

They took a bunch of heterosexual men and women and had them all wear t-shirts for some prolonged period of time without showering.

Then they had each of them do a sniff test on the other gender’s t-shirts and rank the t-shirts in order of attractiveness of the smell.

They never even set eyes on each other.  Nor did they talk to each other.  Their only exposure to each other was via the t-shirts.

They then took the results of the sniff test AND compared it to the DNA of the participants.

The results were very interesting – people were most attracted to the person whose DNA was most different to their own.  It was a classic case of “opposites attract”.

There are evolutionary reasons for this.  E.g., height and cognitive ability are positively affected by diversity and the taller, smarter people among our ancient ancestors would have had a greater chance of survival.

What about business?

Recently I had an email subscriber unsubscribe.  I’ve a small but loyal list.  Unsubscribes are a rare event – so it registered with me.  When people unsubscribe they have the opportunity, if they wish, of stating their reason.  This guy’s reason was because of “spammy content”.  That’s entirely his prerogative.  But the content he found to be spammy wasn’t considered so by others.

Am I concerned about him unsubscribing?  Not at all.  Indeed, I take it as evidence that I’m doing something right.

Back to attraction and repulsion.

Can you be all things to all people?


If you’re inoffensive to all people do you risk being boring?


If you visibly stand for something are you more likely to repulse people?


If you visibly stand for something are you more likely to attract people?


Can you see the implications for your marketing?

I met a friend recently who showed me some new branding material for his firm.  Was it in your face?  Yes.

Is it more likely than something bland to polarise people?  Yes.

Could that polarising increase the attractiveness of his brand to some people?  Yes.

Could that polarising decrease the chance of purchase by people who don’t like it?  Possibly.  However, they were possibly never going to buy anyway.

As someone once said, you can be liked by everyone or you can make history.  But you can’t do both.