No.19 Focussing Effect & Shopping Sustainably

No.19 Focussing Effect & Shopping Sustainably

When we tend to fixate on the first piece of information we receive, this can impact our purchasing habits.

The focussing effect is the tendency for the brain to rely too much on the first piece of information it received in relation to decisions made later on.

A focussing effect is often seen with examples of was/now pricing. A higher price might deter a shopper from making a purchase. However, when the brand or retailer presents a lower sale price, the original higher price serves as the anchor, making the new sale price seem like better value.

A famous example of the focussing effect in action was when The Economist, offered three subscription options: a web-only subscription, which cost $59; a print-only subscription, which cost $125; or both web and print, which also cost $125.

Given these options in a study, no subjects chose the print-only subscription, which was the clearly inferior option. The majority chose the combined print and web subscription. However, when they removed the print-only option, 68% of people chose the web-only subscription. Even though nobody was interested in the print-only option, it served as an anchor to make the more expensive, dual subscription seem like a much better deal.

Shoppers need context and what they see first will and does focus them.  So, if you want shoppers to focus on your brand in-store, there are a number of aspects you should consider.

Make sustainability aspects the initial focus

When shoppers first approach the aisle and bay your brand resides in, what is the first information they see? If it is environmentally relate and you are not the greenest, create another visually impactful ‘green’ focal point. For example, how recyclable is the packaging?

Create your best context

What environmental information shows your brand in the best light? Are you the most recyclable, least energy sapping, or something else? Find the data point you want shoppers to focus on and then shout it, shout it loud.

Make your best sustainability credentials obvious

If your brand is the greenest, make sure to present this in a way that make cross brand comparisons easy.

In summary, the focussing effect gives you a great way of making your brand look disproportionately appealing. But equally, the wrong focal point can seriously damage brand performance. So, find your best green credentials and communicate them effectively.

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About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

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Phillip Adcock

Phillip Adcock CMRS
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

Phillips Signature

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