Dr. Michael Barbera, PhD
Persuasion gets a bad reputation. Persuasion can be assumed to be unethical, intimidating, and forceful. Casinos are often considered persuasive by many critics. Casinos are designed without windows or clocks near the gaming area, and there are acoustics of coins falling onto metal trays. The casino environment is designed to give the illusion of winning money without an overt method of opting out of the gaming area.
Although casinos get a bad rap, everything we observe can be persuasive. Imagine you’re hungry. You open the door to your refrigerator and you browse the food that is available for you to cook. The food that you choose to eat is compared with the food that is available in your refrigerator. You may want to eat Pão de Queijo, but maybe you don’t have cheese in your refrigerator. Your food choice will be anchored by the options that are available; therefore, our fridge is persuasive.
BUNDLING TO ENCOURAGE A PURCHASE
Persuasion comes in many forms and can be creative. Bundling is a persuasion technique that combines a choice or option with another item that is already desired or trusted. Rooms To Go is a regional furniture store in the United States. Several locations offer a section of the store that is dedicated to patio and outdoor furniture. When shopping in this section, the customer is likely to hear the faint sound of a motor running and the smell of chlorine. The faint motor running sound is similar to a pool filter and the chlorine smell offers the illusion that the customer is relaxing in their dream backyard. The smell and sounds are likely to influence the experience with the furniture in the showroom, yet there isn’t a pool located at the store.
BUNDLING TO ENCOURAGE EXERCISE
Bundling could be applied to influence for good. The majority of people want to live a healthier lifestyle and exercise regularly; however, the majority of people are not motivated to exercise regularly. A small franchise of fitness centers in Europe encourages new members to leave the book they are reading at the gym. If you want to read your book, yet also want to workout, then the member must go to the gym to get their book. Most members read their book while pedaling on a stationary bike.
BUNDLING WITH ETHICS
The 10-10-10 model should be applied when crafting a bundling technique. Then three tens represent (1) 10-minutes, (2) 10-months, and (3) 10-years. When creating a bundling technique, it’s important to ask three questions, (1) How will the customer feel about this decision in 10-minutes?, (2) How will the customer feel about this decision in 10-months?, and (3) How will the customer feel about this decision in 10-years? There isn’t a matrix that suggests how to make a decision based on your answers. The action taken depends on your ability to reflect and place yourself and your family in the shoes of the person to be influenced.
Additionally, Nudge is a popular framework in behavioral science. Nudging is the concept of reducing barriers to change behavior and can be persuasive and effective. A behavioral scientist at the University of North Carolina placed birthday decorations on her bathroom mirror to remind her to sing the happy birthday song twice when washing her hands.
Sludge is the opposite of Nudge. Sludge is the intentional application of barriers to prevent a person from completing their desired action. Sludge is often experienced when attempting to unsubscribe from an email list, yet the user is required to type or confirm their email address prior to completing the unsubscribe process. Sludge can have adverse effects between a brand and the consumer in the future.
Furthermore, there is the Shove. Shoving occurs when too much persuasion is applied and influences a person to rebel and complete the opposite action. For example, telling your child they can’t drink the soda in the refrigerator is likely to create a desire to rebel and the child is more likely to break the rules (yes, this happens with adults, too).
Persuasion gets a bad reputation when we give it a bad reputation. The most effective applications of influence and persuasion are less likely to be observed or identified by the consumer and should have equal benefits to the business and the customer.