Heuristics subconsciously help us make decisions about brands and influence our buying behaviors. In this lesson, you’ll learn more about types of heuristics and how they impact the way a business markets a product or service.
Quick, think back to the last purchase you made. What compelled you to buy it? Was it a need or a want? How long did you stand in the store considering one brand over another? Did you think back to a positive memory or a product or a funny commercial you saw?You were a victim of heuristics.
Wait, before you become alarmed, that’s not a bad thing. It’s simply a result of how our brains work, and it’s a tool that savvy marketers can use to influence purchasing decisions.A heuristic is how we approach solving a problem or making a decision quickly and efficiently.
It’s sort of like taking a shortcut on a long journey. You’re trying to arrive at your location in a simple and effective way. Heuristics help us fast-forward on decisions ranging from what to wear in the morning to which brand of toothpaste to buy.
Heuristics allow us to shorten the time it takes us to make a decision and keeps us rolling along, without remaining in a constant state of dwelling on a decision or struggling to determine our next action.Subconsciously, we use heuristics all the time. Think of all the information in the world, yet our brains are only able to handle a certain amount of that information at one time. If you were purchasing a car, you couldn’t possibly inspect or research every single make and model before making a purchasing decision. That’s where heuristics swoop in and save the day.
That mental shortcut allows you to think quickly through options and arrive at a solution.As human beings, we often make decisions based on heuristic models rather than strict logic. Heuristics allow for past experiences, educated guesses, intuition, and common sense. They also take into account psychological, social, and emotional factors. We are, after all, human. Often, a decision based on strict logic would require an exhaustive process of research and learning and processing and researching again.
With heuristics, we’re able to arrive quickly at a decision that is good enough, without being bogged down.
Heuristics come in many forms, including several of popular theories.
This occurs when individuals make decisions based on easy-to-remember or easily accessible information, such as something that happened recently.Marketers make use of the availability heuristic every day, with repeated advertisements on television and social media. If you’re bombarded with a brand, you’re more likely to remember it at the time of a purchase.
Representativeness helps us formulate a decision based on comparing a current situation to a representative example. If we watch television and see a suave gentleman drinking a certain type of beverage at a bar, surrounded by plush surroundings and beautiful women, we relate that brand of beverage with a high-class lifestyle.Marketers use representativeness to convince us that objects or products are representative of an idea or concept we might have. For example, the suave man drinking a certain beverage with all the ladies leads us to believe that by drinking that beverage we are more likely to be suave and interesting. That is certainly not always the case.
3. Attribute substitution
Attribute substitution happens when you’re searching for an answer to a difficult question and, instead, substitute it for a question that’s easier to answer.
For example, instead of asking, ‘Which brand of computer is best for me,’ which would require a detailed understanding of the various components, you might ask, ‘Which brand do I like best?’Marketers often rely on communicating to our emotions or leading with the benefits of a product or service when explaining everything in detail would be too complicated, such as the detailed components of a laptop. Instead, they may talk to us about how fast a computer is or how a certain laptop would be a great choice for a child going off to college.
How often do you make a decision based on the first piece of information you receive? That’s how anchoring works. If we’re making plans for lunch, and you suggest a place and my first comment is, ‘Oh, that place is expensive!’ you will likely use that as an anchor for making future decisions about eating there.For marketers, anchoring is most frequently seen in discounted pricing.
If the computer from our last example is $1,000, but it’s marked down this week to $600, the consumer bases the value of the product on the original price. Anchoring can also be seen in perception and our experience with a particular brand.
Familiarity, as a heuristic, basically relies on our understanding of previous experiences or circumstances, and that those circumstances can be applied to a current situation.Marketers want to build trust and loyalty in their brand. Familiarity helps accomplish that through something like very slight changes to packaging or a logo, or by keeping a product similar throughout the years.
Think about a favorite brand of yours. Why do you like it? Does it make you feel good about yourself? Does the brand project a positive image? That’s affect heuristic.
Brands use affect heuristics by training us to think positively about their product through a funny or heartwarming commercial or advertisement. If we respond favorably to an ad, we’re more likely to purchase their product.Marketers manipulate our affect every day by using funny or clever advertisements to get us feeling good about a brand or product.
Heuristics, or mental shortcuts we use to help us make decisions, are frequently used in marketing to influence our decision-making and buying behaviors.
Heuristic models marketers use include the following:
- Availability, which occurs when individuals make decisions based on easy-to-remember or easily accessible information
- Representativeness, which helps us formulate a decision based on comparing a current situation to a representative example
- Attribute substitution, which happens when you’re searching for an answer to a difficult question and substitute it for a question that’s easier to answer
- Anchoring, which involves making a decision based on the first piece of information you receive
- Familiarity, which relies on our understanding of previous experiences or circumstances
- Affect, or why we like a certain brand or product
By using these subconscious tools, we, as consumers, are able to make decisions quickly without going through a logical sequence of steps, and marketers are able to better tailor their message to impact our feelings and thoughts about a product.