Present Bias causes us to have a greater desire to make decisions that benefit us in the short term, such as massages or going out for drinks. This strategy is relevant if you answer “yes” to any of these questions:
- Do customers buy your product or service on an impulse?
- Does your product or service satisfy an urgent need?
- Is the use of your product relevant only in a particular time period or location?
An experiment was run with 200 students who were approaching the lunch hour. Half of the students were asked for their meal preferences 3 hours ahead of lunchtime, and the other half were asked just before they entered the cafeteria. After researchers counted the calories of each group’s meal, it was found that the students with the 3-hour head start ordered food that was 11% lower in calories than the other group.
According to the Present Bias, what we want now is often in conflict with our long-term plans. For example, if someone were to offer you your favorite dessert right now, you might feel a temptation to eat it. Shortly after this feeling of temptation, you also might remember a commitment to a weight loss goal or nutritional target that this dessert would put at risk, or push off further into the future. Despite the cost of eating the dessert, in some cases, you might choose to eat it anyway.
The Present Bias is in its strongest form when we are dealing with impulse purchases. Whether you are offering a service (such as a massage) or a product (such as a cocktail), your offering is in some way purchased on an impulse and thus exists in the domain of the Present Bias. To make the best and most ethical use of this mental pattern, be sure to adhere to these three strategic principles:
- Focus on near-term benefits in your messaging. Your audience will resonate with the emotional release of buying on an impulse for the short-term win. Use language and imagery that supports the feeling of release.
- Be honest and upfront about the value of indulgence. Your customers don’t want to be in denial about their decision. Be honest about the fact that you’re giving them a short term benefit and that they deserve it.
- Reinforce their “why.” If your customer believes they deserve your product or service for a particular reason, reinforce that reason over and over. This will help them continue to convince themselves that their purchase is a reasonable indulgence.
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