In psychological terms, context is almost everything. Much as we like to think that we know how we will act and react in a given situation, without the richness of...
Today I had the last of five or six conversations with my brother about buying a camera.
I’m no Annie Liebovitz! But I did get into SLR photography many years ago and have had the good luck to take one or two half decent photographs over the years – including one of the Brooklyn Bridge that my brother has in his house. It’s a good picture, although not so good that he’s ever asked me to sign it or anything.
Probably the best picture I ever took was of a sculpture. I was in Paris and took a black and white photo of a Rodin work called The Woman Under the Stone (only that in French, I imagine). By over-exposing the picture perfectly, the dark weathering of the sculpture was magically transformed into a dramatic blend of shimmering shades.
Of course, this was in the days when you didn’t know what your pictures would look like until you got them developed. Incidentally, when I said I had been lucky to take some good pictures, it wasn’t false modesty. The Rodin picture only came out that way because I’d forgotten to change the settings over when I got outside!
All of which is nothing to do with consumer behaviour. But what I did learn from the many conversations with my brother is how much easier it is to make a clear recommendation when your own money isn’t involved: it’s much easier to help spend someone else’s money.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’d hate to give my brother bad advice. But the difference is that I don’t have any unconscious rumblings of loss aversion to contend with. If there’s disappointment down the line I won’t have lost anything personally; it is, after all, still my brother making the final decision about what to do with his money.
So how might this be useful from a consumer behaviour perspective? Well, if you can find a way to encourage people to recommend your product or service to their friends it’s likely to reap dividends. Persuading someone to recommend you to someone else (ironically, even if they haven’t used your services themselves) can be more influential and compelling than delivering your sales message to them first-hand!
Everyone is a potential customer. And even someone who doesn’t buy from you may recommend you to someone else.