How Common Cognitive Biases Affect Marketing
- How does emotion influence consumers’ decisions?
- Does the fast-thinking brain make errors often?
Here is a question: Susan’s mother has 4 daughters. Three of their names are April, May, and June. What is the last daughter’s name?
If you ask 10 people, about 8 of them will tell you that the last daughter’s name is July. But her name is Susan. The fast-thinking brain sees a simple pattern and jumps to a conclusion right away. However, if you think logically, it is not hard to tell that the last daughter’s name is Susan.
Cognitive Biases Affect Decision-Making
This example shows that people often make decisions quickly. The brain looks for simple patterns while missing the whole picture. Fast thinking often leads to making errors. Neuroscientists and behavioral scientists have studied these tendencies extensively. What they learned is that cognitive biases have a strong impact on consumers’ buying decisions. In sales and marketing, understanding why people decide can be the difference between success and failure. Here are some recognized cognitive biases that affect decision-making.
- Framing Effect – How You Say It Matters More – There are almost always several ways to express your sales or marketing message. How that message affects its audience depends on the emotional response it causes. Careful framing, either negative or positive, has a powerful impact on your sales. Being mindful of the Framing Effect cognitive bias will help you send the right message.
- Relativity Bias – How the Brain Compares Prices – How your sales and marketing handle prices has an enormous effect on conversion rates. The fast-acting, unconscious, intuitive parts of the brain can’t handle calculations well. Instead, it makes quick, rough comparisons to compare values. Recognizing this is the key to presenting prices, discounts, savings and other price considerations effectively.
- Anchoring Bias – Persistent Values for Comparison – The fast-thinking brain isn’t good at calculations. It can only handle simple comparisons. The first price seen becomes an anchor. The brain quickly compares other prices to that anchor. So, during car shopping, if a person sees an average price of $27,500 first, a car priced at $24,997 will seem like a bargain. Very often, we see pricing information is created to trigger this thinking anomaly.
- Confirmation Bias – Established Ideas Are Deeply Rooted – Everyone has their own beliefs. Right or wrong, they are securely embedded in our brains. When decisions are needed, the brain acts quickly, based on those beliefs. We trust certain brands, for example. We expect certain outcomes. We have unconscious habits. As Coca Cola learned with New Coke, attempts to replace a popular brand often fail. Understanding this bias is crucial to successful sales and marketing.
- Attentional Bias – Focusing on What’s Important – The conscious brain can only focus on a limited number of things at once. It responds to emotional information first. Fear, desire, pleasure, and pain take priority over other things. People also tend to focus on familiar things. Dieters, for example, home in on images of food. First impressions and repetition can also dominate attention. Guiding customers’ attention is key to get your products or services noticed.
- Bandwagon Bias – Following the Crowd – In marketing, the power of social proof is based on this bias. We respond to what others do unconsciously. Following others is deeply ingrained in our behavior. Testimonials, references to actual numbers of people who also bought a product, and positive review statistics work because of this. Companies like Amazon, Google and eBay know how to take advantage of this tendency in many ways.
- Availability Bias – The Stories We Know – Every decision made by our brains is based on experiences, either real or imagined. We use those old and new stories to predict outcomes. We fear flying more if we’ve recently heard of a plane crash. We play slot machines more if people near us are winning. That’s why story-telling is an effective marketing strategy. Help customers visualize a positive outcome and you’ll sell more.
- Conservatism Bias – The Power of Branding – Our brains are biased toward past success. Habits, associations, beliefs, and positive experiences tend to rule our decisions. We prefer the brands we’re used to. Breaking that pattern is difficult. General Motors unsuccessfully tried to save Oldsmobile as brand-loyalists aged. They could not change fixed attitudes about the brand. Understanding this anomaly can help you avoid wasting your advertising budget.
- Outcome Bias – Someone Wins the Lottery – Imagining a positive outcome can lead the brain to ignore logic in decision making. Auto companies sell fancy sports cars through images of romantic success for their owners. People eagerly buy lottery tickets, despite impossible odds, because they visualize winning the lottery. An image in the brain of a positive outcome can overpower rational thinking. Appealing to this bias is a powerful sales and marketing tool.
- Loss Aversion Bias – Fear of Losing Out – The fast-acting brain is quick to react to risks that involve missing opportunities. This emotional response is related to instinctive fears of shortages of food. Neuromarketing can stimulate decisions through time-limited offers, limited availability of products, and other strategies. The value of these triggering cues is well known.
- Other Cognitive Biases – Irrational Decision-Making Errors – Behavioral scientists have identified many other brain tendencies and common logic flaws. Through experiments and technological monitoring, they’re learning more about why people’s decisions often defy logic. From Blind-Spot and Zero-Risk biases to the Ostrich Effect and the Overconfidence bias and many more, these error-causing tendencies can affect marketing success. Neuromarketing understands them all and can make them work for you.
Neuromarketing – Understanding of Decision-Making
Get a handle on all the ways people think when they make decisions. Neuromarketing helps make websites and other online marketing more effective. That’s why we’re providing information on cognitive biases here. We’ll be linking to new pages regularly on the topics listed above, as well as explaining other erroneous tendencies and thinking flaws of the brain. Through stories and examples, we’ll help you understand how to improve your sales and marketing to increase your revenues and boost your conversion.