The framing effect is a cognitive bias where people decide on options based on whether the options are presented with positive or negative connotations; e.g. as a loss or as a gain.
A potential purchase decision can be swayed in different ways by highlighting the positive or the negative attributes. The framing effect is certainly one of the most heavily used biases, which is understandable as it has a proven track record. It can be used in all types of retail situations from priming, to social pressure and emotional appeals.
For example, beef described as “75% lean” was given perceived as better than than beef described as “25% fat”.
As an in-store guide, there are 3 different types of framing:
- Attribute framing – Highlighting one feature of a product in either a positive or a negative light. When the frame emphasises a desirable attribute, the shopper is more likely to act.
- Risky choice framing – Presenting information in terms of a gamble that will result in a loss or a gain. When options are framed in terms of the gain, the shopper is more likely to purchase.
- Goal framing - Emphasising the negative outcome of not purchasing. When options are framed in terms of what will be missed by not buying, shoppers are more likely to purchase
Brands and retailers can use the framing effect to change the way shoppers view products simply by using different words and images on POS. However, the same techniques can also be used by competitors. For example, While Company A may promote its product by saying it has a 90 percent success rate, the company's competitor can change the frame and say that Company A's product will fail 1-in-10 times.