0 = 3% and 4 = 17%

embrace the power of reciprocity

Marketing is all about behaviour management – encouraging a target market to behave in a preferred manner – for the first or last time, more often, or less often. Persuasion is often central to managing consumer behaviour. This is the first of five thoughts addressing five of the many persuasion tools in the marketer’s toolkit. Some might be obvious, but none is easy to engage effectively.

Intuition would suggest that highly paid medical practitioners would not be easily influenced by a lunch, much less a cheap lunch. This serves to highlight the dangers of applying intuition in the absence of data.
A study completed in the United States in 2017 examined the purchase behaviour of general practitioners (with an average income of $227,000 per annum) and specialists (with an average income of $500,000 per annum) and the influence that a series of $20.00 lunches can have on the brands of drugs they recommend to their patients.

The findings can be summarised as follows:

  • Rosuvastatin
  • 0 lunches – 8% of recommendations
  • 4 lunches – 14% of recommendations
  • Nebivolol
  • 0 lunches – 3% of recommendations
  • 4 lunches – 17% of recommendations
  • Olmesartan
  • 0 lunches – 1% of recommendations
  • 4 lunches – 6% of recommendations

These findings, like many others, demonstrate the power of reciprocity, even when it involves offering a cheap lunch to a high income earning professional.

Reciprocity has been found in many studies, and in any number of cultures, to have a significant effect on purchase behaviour. Even the provision of a chocolate with coffee (as opposed to no chocolate with coffee) after dinner in a restaurant has been shown, time and again, to impact significantly on the size of the tip offered by the customer.

We are more inclined to give to those who have given to us first and to whom we feel some level of obligation. Such an obligation may not cause a sale to occur, but it might, and very often does, impact on who the purchase is made from, how much the customer is prepared to pay, and the timing of the purchase.

This effect is being demonstrated in the growing trend of ‘giving’ before ‘asking’ in marketing. Many marketers give information before asking for the business. Others give free advice or the time to build a relationship. In many respects, reciprocity is about relationships.

In 2018 – embrace the power of reciprocity.

Every year – put the facts ahead of intuition and guesswork.

Sources of core statistics – Upwork, Psychology Today, Social Media Examiner, Neuromarketing, HubSpot, Marketing Ideas 101, Direct Creative, Mashable Australia

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