The Power of Social Pressure in Marketing

By |Published On: Monday, October 24, 2022|2 min read|

How can you use psychology to make sure consumers choose you over your competitors?

Let’s be honest – creating powerful messaging is hard. Understanding user behaviour is key to any type of marketing campaign or messaging. If you know how your target audience behaves and thinks, you’ll instantly gain more traction, deliver greater performance and get ever higher conversion rates – whatever sector you happen to be in.

A great example of user behaviour can be found in this ted talk from 2013. In this talk, Alex Laskey discusses a study produced by Cal State University, where the goal was to motivate the participants in the study to decrease their energy usage.

Graduates put a series of messages designed to test messaging targeted towards getting consumers to reduce their energy consumption. A quarter of the group received a message on a door hanger that used ‘saving money’ as the primary motivator. Another subset received a message about saving the planet, whilst others received a message promoting the benefits of being a better citizen by preventing energy blackouts.

Surprisingly, none of these messages worked – even the one that promoted a financial incentive, which traditionally you would have thought would work. However, a fourth group was targeted with a message essentially saying ‘your neighbours are doing better than you’, and showed a percentage of their performance vs their neighbours. The result? A marked decrease in energy consumption.
What does this illustrate?

The thought of caring what others are doing and how you compare, is inherently powerful. It links with that inherent desire to compete, and that desire to conform with what others are doing. Moral and financial persuasions often do little to sway us. However, social pressure has immense power, and is a valuable tool for you to use.

Consumers care a great deal about what others around them are doing. In marketing, we call this Social Proof. It’s the reason why things like testimonials, reviews, recommendations and interaction statistics are such useful tactics – they play upon our desire to not be the odd one out. Social proof is based largely upon the idea that people like to copy the actions of others. Done well, these sorts of methods are incredibly effective in driving engagement, increasing sales and getting customers to put their foot through your door.

Even better – in an age of big data and personalisation, you can target your marketing to make direct use of social proof to great effect. Communicate with your target demographic and show them how if only they used your product or service, they would enjoy the same success and satisfaction as their existing competitors.

Ask yourself – am I making use of social proof in my marketing communications? If the answer is no – why aren’t you?

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