Go to the Situationist blog to read about a recent study that found people liked more expensive wines better than they liked cheaper cousins, with associated brain activity nvolved in our experience of pleasure. Except that the wine they were served was the same. A follow-up post has reactions from psychologists and practitioners of a field called neuromarketing.
[Antonio] Rangel [author of the stufy] thinks that incorporating factors other than the product itself into the experience of that product is part of human nature. “It is something that can be exploited by marketing but has not been created by marketing,” he said.
Aishwarya has a, um, speculative post on a recent example of how advertising has played this game of "incorporating factors other than the product itself".