The human brain may be very complex, it is also easily fooled. “Supply it and people will buy it” isn’t an empty promise, as marketing professor Arne Maas showed. A simple example: have shopping carts installed with a separate compartment for fruits and vegetables and see your sales double.
Maas argued in his lecture “The reasonless consumer” that consumers make decisions in two ways: on the one hand they decide unconsciously, relying on an auto-pilot that has no clue about the reasons a certain decision is taken. On the other hand there is the analytic way, where the consumer actively thinks about his decision.
Studies have shown that it is often the auto-pilot that takes the forefront when it comes to deciding what to buy. This gives marketers a number of possibilities to play of this weak side of the consumer, be it for the good or the bad.
Proven by experiments
Examples are plenty: it is long known that people buy more when they use a basket on wheels, instead of having to carry it themselves. Maas gives another example: if a shopping cart has a separate compartment for fruits and vegetables, then the sales of those products will double as the mind forces people to make use of that compartment.
When a book is labelled bestseller, people will assume it’s a good book and that book will sell like hot cakes. You can even sell more M&M’s by putting them in a see-through bag, because seeing food stimulates hunger.
Marketers have a responsibility
This playing into the subconscious behaviour of the consumer is called “framing”: putting a product or a service in such a perspective that the unaware consumer makes the conclusion desired by the manufacturer. To attain this goal, certain information about a product is emphasized or omitted.
Using this theory, Maas is convinced marketers can change the behaviour of their consumers by making them make more healthy decisions. Studies have shown that when a bag of Pringles contains a red Pringle every ten crisps, people will stop eating faster. People will even use the stairs more if footprints are drawn on the ground leading to stairs instead of a lift.