35,000… the number of decisions that the average person makes per day. Evaluating each of those decisions would drive all of us to drink. To preserve our mental sanity, we rely on outside forces, or triggers, that influence our decision-making and help speed up our information processing. Why should we care about these primarily subconscious triggers? Simple. A successful marketer will use these influential triggers in their favor to elicit a positive response from their target audience.
In support of this idea, researchers have examined consumer behavior and the decision-making process. Robert Cialdini, one of the most renowned researchers in this field, founded six triggers that influence our decision-making. He called them the “Weapons of Influence”.
And with all this being said, we would like to introduce…L7 Creative’s toolbox of marketing mayhem! In this toolbox, we will post a series of blog posts that will unveil all six essential psychological levers to improve your marketing and advertising initiatives. This is Part Two of our Weapons of Influence series, covering the weapon “commitment & consistency” (read Part One here).
Weapon Two: Commitment & Consistency
“Foot in the door”
You’re an avid Apple supporter. You love their products. You own an iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch and listen to iTunes on the reg. When the latest iPhone comes out, you’re the first in line. Screw Androids! Who wants an obsolete device? You’re loyal to Apple…. cuz Apple’s the bomb.
It’s no secret that Apple customers are about as loyal as they get. In fact, when iPhone owners need a new device, 92% will only purchase another iPhone. That’s some serious loyalty. What are the psychological factors driving this extreme loyalty? Commitment and consistency are in play.
Commitment is a psychological state of mind in which we feel dedication towards a person, cause, object, task, belief, the list goes on. We’ve all experienced commitment in one form or another, whether you’ve been committed to a weekly gym routine, a long-term relationship, a political belief, even a fro-yo punch card (gotta get that freebie!). The point is, commitment comes in all shapes and sizes. Where does consistency tie in? Consistency goes hand in hand with commitment. People strive to be consistent with things they have previously said or done. Nobody wants to be the person that says “I would never eat at McDonald’s” and then gets caught chowing down on a Big Mac the next week. People don’t want to lose face by contradicting their beliefs, values, or actions.
We’ve all heard the common phrase, “it takes 21 days to form a new habit”. This originated from a plastic surgeon in the 1950’s, Maxwell Maltz. He found that following an operation, it took about 21 days for patients to adjust to seeing their new face. While this statement has turned into more of a modern-day myth and been taken out of context (it’s actually a minimum of 21 days), there is still some truth here. Repetitive engagement in an activity for a duration of time will create a sense of commitment to continue engaging in that routine.
Most of us have uttered the words, “But I was so close!” It can be extremely frustrating to feel cut off or road-blocked, especially when we feel that we are so close to our goal. While there are too many considerations and variables to pinpoint an exact number of days to form a new habit, commitment is without a doubt the strongest when we are closer to our goal or we have been committed for a longer duration of time.
Implications for Marketers
Moving forward, what are the implications for marketers? How can we optimize our marketing efforts by using commitment and a person’s need to be consistent?
It is important for marketers to ensure their customers continue to feel committed to your brand. One of these “commitment maintaining” methods include loyalty cards (the more they use/spend, the more they get). Loyalty cards can be extremely effective, especially if you give your customers a bit of a head start. This puts them a few steps closer to receiving their freebie and strengthens their commitment to your company.
Encouraging public commitments to your brand (for example, asking your customers to post something on their social media relating to your brand) can be effective because it appeals to their need to be consistent. They have now publicly announced their support of your brand and they will want to stick to that belief.
Smaller & Easier Requests
People have a hard time agreeing to big commitments, especially with things that are unfamiliar. Think back to the Apple example… it would be a stretch to ask an Apple user to choose the latest Samsung over the iPhone 8. But you can make their decisions easier by making the commitments smaller and by showing the customer the “exit sign”. A few of the ways this can be done are by giving customers the option to return the product, free trials, or the opportunity to cancel a membership. As a matter of fact, providing a return policy that makes it easy for customers can increase revenue and customer loyalty by roughly 21%. Case and point, Nordstrom, which has ranked as the US’s favorite fashion retailer for the fifth year in a row, is known for their lenient return policy.
With all this being said, it is beneficial to understand the psychological underlyings of commitment and consistency because it impacts a consumer’s perception of your brand’s offering. You can create loyal customers by implementing strategies that utilize the principles of commitment and consistency.
Stay tuned for our next post in this series where we will cover the marketing insights and implications of the weapon, “Scarcity”.
By: Christina Gineris