Leveraging Cognitive Biases: Boost Your Brand’s Success

Question: As a marketer, do you have biases about whether consumers have biases that affect your brand? Wait. What?  The good news and bad news is that we all have biases.  Let’s take a look and see how you can leverage common biases and make them work for your brand instead of against it.

Here’s the deal, as human beings, we are constantly exposed to new people, products, information, ideas, and experiences in our daily lives which force us to make decisions and act.  With all that decision-making experience, you would think that would make everyone expert decision-makers.  It does not.  Instead, we have become experts at making decisions easier and more efficient which sometimes leads to imperfect decisions.  And the way our brains go about making decisions easier and more efficient is by relying on previous experiences, memories, and information – or more simply, cognitive biases.

Developing and relying on cognitive biases is human nature.  But how does that work? What goes through our complex minds when doing so? What affects our decision-making? This is where psychology meets marketing, and cognitive biases come into play. Being aware of different biases is a critical step in boosting the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.

Here are just a few of the many cognitive biases we all have and how they might be impacting your brand:

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values.  All of us, including patients and physicians, revert to confirmation bias behavior.  It feels good to reinforce and validate our beliefs and values.  And our brains will seek out that validation even if the belief is incorrect.  Overcoming and changing a belief and behavior (for example, an opinion on an existing versus new treatment option) is challenging.  Doing so can require tapping in to other biases our brains use to process information and make decisions.

Authority bias is our natural tendency to follow a leader. Opinions of an authority figure can be highly influential when making decisions. For instance, if an expert physician utilizes and favors a specific treatment, it could lead physician peers and patients to adopt the same opinion. To take advantage of this, we work with clients to identify, interact, and maximize the impact of key opinion leaders (KOLs).

Optimism bias is an important one to consider – especially as it relates to how consumers will perceive and process direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising for prescription drugs.  Optimism bias occurs when a person believes they are less likely to experience a negative event.  Depending on the condition being treated, the possible side effects, and the rate of occurrence the optimism bias versus perceived susceptibility spectrum can fluctuate and it is important to understand how your brand could be impacted.

Zero-risk bias is when a person prefers the complete elimination of a risk in a sub-part even though alternative options produce a greater overall reduction in risk. How could this bias be impacting your brand in a major way? There is extensive research on how formulary decision makers are influenced by zero-risk bias.  Understanding this can play a part in your brand being approved or not on a payer’s formulary.

Lastly, most marketers launching new products are aware of and do not suffer from an irrational status quo bias – ignoring choices that can improve their situation simply because they want to stick with what is familiar.

It’s ironic that our brains go through very complex processes (without us realizing it!) to make decisions easier and faster for us.

The above mentioned are just some of a very long list of biases impacting how decisions are made.  If you would like to know more about how OptiBrand can help you develop expert positioning for your brand (of course, considering biases), send us a message and let’s have a conversation.

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