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  • Sandhya Gulsin

The Choice Factory | What we can learn about our consumers

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Richard Shotton identifies the impact of behavioural psychology on decision-making, examining 25 behavioural biases (of the 192 he believes exist). The bridge between behavioural science and advertising is vital to introduce and apply when trying to understand audience behaviours. Single solutions and observations for marketing success should not be from the product and campaign performance alone but with an understanding of the psychology behind the audience to enrich marketing optimisation. From the 25 biases, there are 3 key behaviours that stand out and are important for marketers to consider in order to understand their consumers.

Bias 5 - Habit

Consumer habits can help create a customer’s brand loyalty due to convenience factors or it can create a challenge for gaining customer loyalty from individuals who need a huge influence to break away from their existing loyal brand. Habits are content-related and by altering the environment, the habit may shift. Shotton suggests that by using personal experiences such as major life events, this will help allow a brand to be useful or a solution. By reaching out to consumers during a monumental point of change this will allow room for a new habit without breaking an old one (instantly). Disrupting automated behaviour is the hardest part of breaking a habit, to do this requires a rich understanding of your audience alongside the creative application.

Bias 18 - The Pratfall Effect

Originated as an experiment by Elliot Aronson - Professor of Psychology at Harvard, the Pratfall effect reveals that if individuals or brands show “flaws” they are more desirable. The most interesting aspect of the pratfall effect that really enforces risky marketing is the ability to expose flaws directly, a successful and brave example would be VW Beetle advertising - “It’s ugly but it gets you there”. The strategic approach behind the VW Beetle advertising evidenced that honesty and transparency encourage consumer trust. When applying this approach, it is important to consider if the brand is a household name as familiarity is more likely to be effective than a lesser-known brand. The technique must match the brand voice and tone and also mirror the brand’s strengths. The challenge in applying the pratfall effect would be if credibility is the reason consumers prefer flaws or if it is content that breaks away from the norm makes it more memorable. The “ideal” situations we see from product reviews to scripted stories defer us from trusting brands as consumers cannot relate to this false reality. The pratfall effect is the bias to explore for large corporations who are seeking consumer trust, however, it is not widely used in advertising but should be for distinctive and memorable marketing.

Bias 24 - Cocktail Party Effect

The Cocktail party effect relates to our previously reviewed book “Marketing above the noise” to help marketers reach their consumer by filtering out the information that is irrelevant, differing the customer from their purchase process. Shotten explains how this effect means that consumers subconsciously listen and absorb content or information that is relevant to them; ”We filter out most of the chatter, but will hear our name.” The solution to this is the relevancy of content, in order to continue consumer engagement. Personalisation of content will also help avoid the irrelevant information and unknowingly the consumer will remain more interested and invested in the content for a longer period of time.

To conclude we may believe that we (as marketers) will not be influenced by biases so how will our audience? However the small adjustments to marketing activity will create a more efficient flow and understanding of campaign response and behaviour. When a marketing or advertising challenge arises utilising the hundreds of biases and experiments might help in finding a solution.

Want to find out more? Read our review of Richard Shotton’s; The Choice factory only at the study

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