The dream of any right-thinking change agent is to mandate that people use your product.From Behavioral Scientist, June 12:
If that approach is not feasible the fallback is to tax the competition
Here at Totalitarian Marketing Group we supply strategies for the power-mad while making life easier for the top 0.0000001%.
TMG, when nudge just isn't fast enough.
I know exactly how the conversation will go.
I’m interviewing Chris, a 52-year-old man living a small coastal town, for the second time. We’ve been exploring the new checkout process for a client’s redesigned website. The new site isn’t performing as well as the company thought it would, so I’m exploring why and seeing what we can learn from competitors.
“Only 2 rooms left? They don’t expect me to believe that do they? You see that everywhere.”I leave with a wry smile. The client won’t be happy, but at least the project findings are becoming clear. Companies in certain sectors use the same behavioral interventions repeatedly. Hotel booking websites are one example. Their sustained, repetitive use of scarcity (e.g., “Only two rooms left!”) and social proof (“16 other people viewed this room”) messaging is apparent even to a casual browser.
For Chris the implication was clear: this “scarcity” was just a sales ploy, not to be taken seriously.
My colleagues and I at Trinity McQueen, an insight consultancy, wondered, was Chris’s reaction exceptional, or would the general public spot a pattern in the way that marketers are using behavioral interventions to influence their behavior? Are scarcity and social proof messages so overused in travel websites that the average person does not believe them? Do they undermine brand trust?
The broader question, one essential to both academics and practitioners, is how a world saturated with behavioral interventions might no longer resemble the one in which those interventions were first studied. Are we aiming at a moving target?
The broader question, one essential to both academics and practitioners, is how a world saturated with behavioral interventions might no longer resemble the one in which those interventions were first studied.This was the basis for a research project we completed in February 2019 examining reactions of the British public to a range of behavioral interventions. We took a nationally representative sample of 2,102 British adults, and undertook an experimental evaluation of some of marketers’ most commonly used tactics.
We started by asking participants to consider a hypothetical scenario: using a hotel booking website to find a room to stay in the following week. We then showed a series of nine real-world scarcity and social proof claims made by an unnamed hotel booking website.
Two thirds of the British public (65 percent) interpreted examples of scarcity and social proof claims used by hotel booking websites as sales pressure. Half said they were likely to distrust the company as a result of seeing them (49 percent). Just one in six (16 percent) said they believed the claims.
The results surprised us. We had expected there to be cynicism among a subgroup—perhaps people who booked hotels regularly, for example. The verbatim commentary from participants showed people see scarcity and social proof claims frequently online, most commonly in the travel, retail, and fashion sectors. They questioned truth of these ads, but were resigned to their use:....MORE
“It’s what I’ve seen often on hotel websites—it’s what they do to tempt you.”In a follow up question, a third (34 percent) expressed a negative emotional reaction to these messages, choosing words like contempt and disgust from a precoded list. Crucially, this was because they ascribed bad intentions to the website. The messages were, in their view, designed to induce anxiety:....
“Have seen many websites do this kind of thing so don’t really feel differently when I do see it.”
More than likely related:
Nudge Guy Say Nudges Good, Critics Bad
Have I mentioned I don't like the nudge people?Behavior: We Are More Rational Than Those who Try To 'Nudge' Us
Ah, I see I have. More below....