Nudging marketing: working on the unconscious to facilitate consumer choices

By July 28, 2023 Digital Stories

The expression nudging marketing refers to the activity of persuading marketing teams to make it easier for users to take certain actions. Such strategies of persuasion, also referred to as "gentle nudging," are intended to make particular outcomes more likely, otherwise more difficult to achieve.

Most of our choices are not conscious ones, and this is where the nudging, the new frontier useful for enhancing branding. Just nudge is the element theorized by behavioral sciences that goes to influence other people's behavior through small positive actions.

All this is to affect "choice architecture," the basic pillar of decision-making processes. But how does nudging marketing work and how is it applied in the field of marketing and e-commerce?

What is nudging?

To understand the theory of nudge and therefore nudging marketing one has to question what specific behavior involves. The latter stems from an intention and an opportunity, but many factors can hinder such behavior, including willingness.

And this is where so-called nudges become particularly useful in that they make it possible to encourage an action by directing it in the desired direction. Some speak of manipulation, but it would be more correct to consider it exploitation of the rules of operation of the human mind.

Simply put, nudging marketing employs the reflexes of the human brain for marketing purposes, with the goal of steering behavior in a direction beneficial to the brand. The topic was first addressed by the economic Thaler and the law professor Sunstein In their book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness.

According to American scholars, nudge (prod or tap) is the act of gently nudging people toward actions that are more effective for themselves and the community. This is how one goes about channeling the choice that is desired or thought to be best, which is why it is also referred to as libertarian paternalism. It means that on the one hand you decide that an action is best and on the other hand you do not impose obligations or prohibitions.

Such a nudge theory falls within the realm of the behavioral sciences, but today it is applied in many different areas, including politics, economics and, of course, marketing. Thaler and Sunstein have thus shown that people do not always behave rationally and that consumers are often prone to suggestion. And an experienced salesperson or marketer, perhaps with the help of modern AI technologies, can use this human inclination to his or her advantage.

Nudging in marketing

 Now that we know what nudging means, one only has to look around to easily spot this sales approach virtually everywhere, starting with the stores down the street that sell everything at 99 cents. In fact, it is no accident that many of the prices on the market are not rounded.

Consumers are more enticed to pay 10.99 euros for a product instead of 11 euros because they are stimulated to perceive the first price as cheaper and more advantageous, albeit by 1 cent. From this simple element, one can see how nudging marketing is becoming increasingly popular and powerful as a tool for conversion For brands.

If in the past you had to deal with more or less intrusive offers, today with nudges you are trying to gently guide customers to purchase. It is then necessary to employ such strategies based on insights from marketing psychology that will go a long way toward optimizing one's economic activity. These are. suggestions or prompts that gently nudge people toward the right buying behavior.

If all this is transferred to digital marketing, it is easy to understand the importance of such mechanisms. Smart pricing and product positioning increase the chances of sales exponentially.

One of the most obvious examples of nudging marketing was implemented by the coffee shop chain Starbucks, which makes use of the use of the "decoy effect", i.e., the decoy effect through the size of beverage cups.

It can be seen in the menu how the price changes according to the size of the cup. The addition of the third Venti option serves as a stimulus to direct customer spending. If the alternative between Tall and Large does not produce an unambiguous choice, the addition of the third choice goes to enhance the strengths of one of the other two options.

That is, if people were previously driven to choose the first alternative because it was cheaper, they are now driven to the middle choice, which has suddenly become more appealing because it is halfway between the most expensive and the cheapest.

It is then clear how nudge marketing can make theshopping experience easier and less stressful for the decision-maker. But in this case it is not a matter of deceiving customers, only of helping them to choose with less difficulty.

Nudging in e-commerce

Nudging marketing can be used to go about optimizing the consumer journey in e-commerce as well. In fact, it can help to speed up the shopping experience, personalize it, create links to other products and ease the angst of paying at the checkout. Here are some nudgindg practices applied in e-commerce:

  • Labeling products: in this case, implicit triggers are put in place that are designed to increase the credibility of the product or to facilitate item search. Usually in labeling, the focus is on functional benefits or psychological triggers or triggers. For example, Asos adds elements to labels that help customers search for items related to their body shape. In contrast, IKEA uses labels to develop micro-segments based on specific customer profiles, as is the case with the family price targeting a segment of consumers who want to save money;
  • Product badges: are solicitations that serve to arouse customers' curiosity about a product or reveal something about an item that consumers are interested in. For those interested in popular products, the badge that says "popular" makes the path to purchase easier;
  • Smart Notifications: is a technique that aims to channel customers in the right direction. Specifically, it focuses on the sense of scarcity Of the items. Not surprisingly, scarcity should increase purchase intention by proposing exclusive or limited products. Thus, smart notifications rely on a sense of urgency and FOMO (Fear of missing out), or the fear of being excluded from social experiences;
  • Exit-intent overlays: these output overlays are of the popup that appear when a consumer is about to leave the page. Such popups can be used to offer promotions, newsletters, discount codes, alerts about new lines, or prompts to complete the transaction. They are thus "nudges" so that customers stay on the site longer;
  • Feedback and reviews: a good nudging approach are the reviews and feedback left by users, which are very useful for buyers who can have a evaluation most comprehensive of the item for sale. In this, Amazon is an excellent example as it places great importance on consumer questions and reviews shared by consumers;
  • Checkout incentives: Shopping cart abandonment is one of the sore points for e-commerce sites. This is the most delicate moment to reinforce the customer's purchase path. Through nudging, upsell or cross-sell offers should be presented, free returns, subscriptions, advice and more, all to make the "pain" of the consumer who has to pay more bearable.

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