83% trust recommendations from friends

provide social proof

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 third 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.

We all like to consider ourselves to be individual and unique. Research, however, suggests this may not be the case. This was demonstrated in a study conducted in an international hotel where guests were encouraged to recycle their towels. When asked to recycle in order to help the environment, some 30% recycled. When told that 80% of guests recycle their towels, some 70% actually did. In other words, when guests were told it was a social norm, recycling of towels improved from 30% to 70%.

Another study in the United States in 2017 found that 83% of consumers were more likely to purchase a brand if that brand was recommended by family and friends. Knowing that friends or family had made a purchase significantly increased the likelihood of a consumer making a purchase.

This effect has been demonstrated in a number of studies conducted by behavioural economist Dan Ariely and his team at Duke University. Ariely has demonstrated time and again that consumers are sheep and look for the security of knowing that others have purchased a product or brand before them.

People will be attracted to a display by seeing others standing around it, just as they look up in the sky when others are doing so. Teenagers will buy the brand of jeans their friends are buying. Older people will take the cruise that a magazine or consultant tells them is most popular.

In many respects, relying on social norms involves using the behaviour of others to determine ‘correct’ behaviour. This, in part, involves the desire for reassurance about the quality etc. of a product or brand. It is also related to the basic need many consumers have, to avoid standing out.

This is, in many respects, all about tribal behaviour.

In the past, social norms have been demonstrated by the behaviour of people offline. In recent times, however, social norms have been communicated online through blogs and other social media contributions. Increasing social media can, and will, be used to build the perception of ‘social proof’ – or proof that a product or brand is the right one, by virtue of the views and behaviour of others.

Most human beings want to fit in – even when they say they don’t.

In 2018 – provide social proof.

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

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

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