Recently came across a brilliant video (see here)
As people chose the stairs in this case, do you think they decided the same way they would usually do when they are offered a choice of stairs vs. an escalator?
I don’t think so, and that is the point – a change in consumer behaviour can be triggered by suspending consumer rationality.
The most iconic example of this is the McDonald’s Happy meal promotion, where children across the world have coerced parents into a McDonald’s for a sandwich they did not want but for the toy that came with the Happy meal.
But children are easily beguiled do you say?
Consider the ‘Free’ phone deal that all mobile operators offer on a contract that makes consumers throw away perfectly good phones and pay for a new ‘Free’ phone.
Or take the iPhone phenomenon; people who would have considered coverage and service reputation, compared deals from various providers before changing providers have queued up to buy O2 service without doing this because that was the only way they could get their hands on the phone.
As these examples demonstrate, an unrelated pay-off in the transaction can fundamentally change how decisions are made and even trigger decisions that are not rational. The limit is only defined by the marketing and pricing creativity that you can bring to building the proposition. Not surprisingly, a ‘free’ reward is a trusted weapon in the direct marketing arsenal for triggering consumer response.
PS: See a very interesting write-up from James Myers of Ogilvy on Behavioural Economics here that delves further into the ‘intuitive’ consumer behaviour.