Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Social Commerce Rule of Thumb: Consistency, Small Steps Lead to Big Ones

Paul Chaney writes about how we are creatures of habit and how that impacts our purchase activity as well. Read more below.

“Creatures of habit” is one way to characterize most humans. We like routines, or if don’t “like” them, at least they are tolerated. Neural patterns get carved into our brains that cause us to act in ways that are consistent, not only with routines, but with beliefs and values.

That same mindset translates into purchase activity, as well. That’s why we fly the same airlines, visit the same websites, buy the same style clothes, eat at the same restaurants, purchase gas from the same stations, etc. To do otherwise would push us outside our comfort zones and into a realm of uncertainty. “Terra incognita” is not a land where most of us care to travel.

That is not to suggest consumers should be mindless dullards when making purchase decisions. As Oscar Wilde said, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” However, the purpose of this post is not to debate the value of consistency versus change, but to describe how the consistency rule works, especially as it applies to social commerce.

How the Consistency Rule Works

To explain how the consistency rule of thumb works, let’s say I ask you for $100. There’s a very good likelihood that you will say no. However, if I ask for one dollar, you’re more likely to oblige. Later, if I ask for $100, you’re less likely to object.

It’s a brainwashing technique, really, one that marketers have been using for a long time. Free trials are one example – get something free and there is a chance you’ll continue to use the product.

My favorite example of this consistency heuristic is razors. Companies like Gillette will practically give away the razor along with an extra set of blades to entice consumers to try the product. But, when you visit the store to purchase more blades, plan to empty your wallet! Yet, because you purchased the razor, it’s consistent to buy the over-priced blades.

There is another aspect of the consistency rule of thumb: saying something out loud publicly causes change. When we do something publicly – such as sign a petition or rate and review a product – we are more likely to remain consistent with that particular stance.

Read more about Consistency & Social Commerce here

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