Whatever challenge you’re facing, we’ll draw on findings from psychology and behavioural science to offer solutions grounded in evidence.
Goods tend to be more appealing when they are in limited supply. One way of applying that laterally is to create artificial purchasing limits. This can work particularly well for a promotion.
What’s the evidence?
In 1998, Brian Wansink, a Professor of Marketing at Cornell University, ran a field experiment to test the effectiveness of a scarcity tactic.
He persuaded three supermarkets in Sioux City, Iowa, to offer Campbell’s soup at a small discount: 79c rather than 89c.
The discounted soup was sold in one of three conditions: a control, where there was no limit on the volume of purchases, or two tests, where customers were limited to either four or twelve cans.
In the unlimited condition shoppers bought 3.3 cans on average, whereas in the scarce condition, when there was a cap, they bought 5.3 on average.
How have we used this idea?
We have worked with brewers and restaurants to apply this idea. The key idea is to pick a handful full of items and artificially restrict the volume that people can purchase i.e. “maximum three items per transaction”. Creating this restriction insinuates that the item is popular, thereby increasing its appeal.
Temporal reframing is the idea that when calculating an item’s value, we over-emphasise the sum quoted and place too little weight on the time-frame.
Richard showed 500 customers a fictitious financing deal for a car in one of four ways – either as a daily, weekly, monthly or annual figure.
The results revealed that the shorter the time frame, the more appealing the deal. When the prices were shown as a daily figure, they were five times more likely to be rated as a great deal than when they were shown annually. When compared to monthly rates, the daily deal was 28% more likely to be referred to as a good or great deal (see below).
Results of the study
People do not make decisions as discrete individuals, but rather they are influenced by what they believe to be the common course of behaviour. If a behaviour is made to appear popular it will become more popular still.
In 2018, the Australian government sent letters to 6,000 GP practices aiming to reduce antibiotic prescriptions.
GPs received one of five letters:
The least successful message was the education message, which reduced prescriptions by 3.2% compared to the control. The social proof plus graph message was the most effective, reducing the number of antibiotic prescriptions by 12.3% over six months.
Results from the Australian Government’s (2018) study
Most brands tend to persuade B2B clients by emphasising their strengths. Our approach is to combine those messages with social proof. Rather than just saying why the brand is great we complement that with statements about the brand’s popularity.
We have used this tactic successfully on many B2B campaigns, from pharmaceuticals to construction, from media companies to banks.
We are an international working group specializing in behavioral science applied to marketing and sales.
Our team also includes Richard Shotton, author of “The Choice Factory“, a best seller translated into 11 different languages that explains how behavioural science can help solve business challenges.In 2021 Richard was made an honorary member of IPA UK and a member of the Moller Institute, Churchill College, Cambridge University.
If you’re going to design effective marketing or research approaches, you need to understand these genuine motivations.
We can help you understand and then apply the theory to any business question you have.
Understanding the research is just the first step. How exactly can you use it? We turn theory into practice.
Great ideas need a lateral approach. We apply relevant behavioural insights in unexpected ways.
Send over your key challenges to us. You’ll be under time pressure so the brief can be short, just a paragraph or a quick phone call.
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