As we enter 2016, and people are setting New Year’s resolutions, research states that approximately only 12% of Americans will actually keep to them throughout the year. The insight into why people fail or succeed with their resolutions and the understanding of consumers’ aspirations in the New Year can be valuable information for marketers. Ad Age published an article focusing on research around resolutions and the four lessons marketers can learn to better target their consumers.
1. The power of social proof. One reason people make New Year’s resolutions is simply because other people are making them. As Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” says, “We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.”
The lesson for marketer: Make the example of others adopting the behavior change you require visible to the people whose behavior you want to change.
2. The importance of milestones. Research by Kathy Milkman at Wharton and others looked at how significant dates and times spur goal-directed, aspirational activities.
Lessons for marketers: Milestones matter, so look for one to ignite your behavior change strategy.
3 .Future self is a virtuous stranger. A fascinating area of behavioral insights is how timeframes affect people’s choices. When we contemplate our future self, he or she is a model of virtue, easily able to overcome the short-term temptation our present self falls victim to. So our resolutions are often “sized” for our future self, not for our fallible present self. So, resolutions suffer similarly. What seemed like a good idea on December 31 can become a royal pain a couple of months into the year.
Lessons for marketers: Programs that help potential customers bridge the gap between present and future self can also help marketers with the tricky job of selling products or services with future benefits.
4. Make it easy. This one is almost insultingly obvious. In the book, “Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics,” Richard Thaler writes that one of his mantras is, “If you want to encourage someone to do something, make it easy.”
Lesson for marketers: Make your marketing easier to act upon. How can you make the decision to choose your product both cognitively and physically easier?
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