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The decoy effect: how you are influenced to choose without really knowing it

The decoy effect

The decoy effect

It happens when consumers change their preference between two options when presented with a third option, or decoy.

The decoy is priced to make one of the other options much more attractive. The decoy is not intended to sell, just to nudge consumers away from the competitor and towards the target.

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The decoy effect: how you are influenced to choose without really knowing it

The decoy effect: how you are influenced to choose without really knowing it

http://theconversation.com/the-decoy-effect-how-you-are-influenced-to-choose-without-really-knowing-it-111259

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

The decoy effect

It happens when consumers change their preference between two options when presented with a third option, or decoy.

The decoy is priced to make one of the other options much more attractive. The decoy is not intended to sell, just to nudge consumers away from the competitor and towards the target.

How decoys work

When consumers are faced with many alternatives, they often experience choice overload that increases anxiety and hinders decision-making.

Consumers try to reduce this anxiety by selecting only a couple of criteria (say price and quantity) to determine the best value for money.

A decoy steers you in a particular direction while giving you the impression that you are making a rational, informed choice.

Decoy example in the market

Consider the price of drinks at a well-known juice bar: a small (350 ml) size costs $6.10; the medium (450 ml) $7.10; and the large (610 ml) $7.50. The medium is a slightly better value than the small, and the large better still. The medium is designed to be the decoy, steering you to see the biggest drink as the best value for money.

If you buy the biggest, was it because you made a sensible choice, or have you been manipulated to opt for bigger than intended?

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The Decoy Effect

It is a marketing tactic used to nudge you into purchasing a higher-priced variant of a product or service.

The Decoy effect can be applied in recruitment, polls, elections, or anywhere else ...

The extra-large glass

A well-designed decoy can shift our decision making between two options as much as 40%.

For example, we are more likely to buy the large glass of juice at the counter when we have been provided with a choice in which the smaller glass is priced only slightly less. We tend to opt for the bigger glass (even if we don't need more juice) as it looks like a bargain.

The Unattractive Option
  • The Unattractive Third Option (The Decoy) has no real value in itself and is just placed to sway the decision maker towards the higher-priced option.
  • The Decoy's only purpose is to make the expensive option appear like a bargain.
  • This has also been widely used in subscription options of magazines and in the high-end diamond market.

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This makes sense, but it means ...

The "swimmer's body illusion"

It's a thinking mistake and it occurs when we confuse selection factors with results. 

Professional swimmers don't have perfect bodies because they train extensively. Rather, they are good swimmers because of their physiques.

The sunk cost fallacy

It plays on this tendency of ours to emphasize loss over gain.

The term sunk cost refers to any cost that has been paid already and cannot be recovered. The reason we can't ignore the cost, even though it's already been paid, is that we're wired to feel loss far more strongly than gain.

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The perfect nudge

Nudging involves gently coaxing someone into a decision or behavior. The successful nudge is one that results in the desired choice or behavior without the person realizing any external influenc...

Multiple systems of the mind

The mind seems to involve various simple systems throughout the body that are not always in agreement. Some systems are shortsighted, some care about relationships, and some prioritize the future of humanity.

We are not always aware of each mechanism. Sometimes we make decisions carefully and other times intuitively.

Nudging methods
  • Highlighting the decisions of others you consider influential. Reading “Most other guests staying at this hotel reuse towels,” may make you feel compelled to align your behavior with the majority.
  • “Injunctive norms” focus on how one should act in a particular situation. “Reusing towels meets a high standard for environmental responsibility,” highlights self-imposed standards. It involves a belief about right and wrong that consider abstract concepts.

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