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No.20 The Framing Effect & Shopping Sustainably

No.20 The Framing Effect & Shopping Sustainably

Ways that companies can utilise the framing effect when trying to switch consumers' perspectives on their products.

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 perceived as better than beef described as “25% fat”.

As an in-store guide and specifically relating to sustainability, there are 3 different types of framing:

  1. Attribute framing – Highlighting one sustainability related feature of a product in either a positive or a negative light. When the frame emphasizes a desirable attribute, the shopper is more likely to act.
  2. Risky choice framing – Presenting information in terms of a gamble that will result in a loss or a gain. When more sustainable options are framed in terms of the gain, the shopper is more likely to purchase. 
  3. Goal framing - Emphasizing the negative environmental 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.

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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 www.adcocksolutions.com, 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

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