If quality is part of your brand positioning then you need to be communicating that value to your target market at every opportunity.
There are many different ways to do this – an interesting one is “the illusion of effort”. I don’t really know why Richard Shotton, behavioural scientist, refers to it as an illusion. I think in most cases it is more like the revelation of effort.
According to the 30 May ’23 episode of Richard Shotton’s podcast – Behavioural Science for Brands, which I thoroughly recommend, the illusion of effort is the idea that a product will become more appealing if people can see the effort that was put into it.
This theory is based on research carried out by Andrea Morales, professor of marketing at Arizona State University in 2005. She carried out her study on a group of people who were in the market to buy a flat. Each person is given a list of 10 properties that meet their requirements. A portion of the sample group was told that the list was generated by the estate agent using a computer in one hour. The other half of the group was told that the list was put together manually and that it took 9 hours. All were asked to rate the quality of the estate agent. Those who were told that just one hour of effort was put in rated the agent 50 out of 100. The others, who heard the 9 hour story, rated the agent at 68 out of 100. This is a 36% improvement in ratings – based solely on the perceived effort – the output was exactly the same.
Why is this? Morales says that working out the quality of a service or product is complex for people. Looking at the effort put into it is a fairly effective shortcut in deciding how good it is. I think that this is usually subconsciously done but it is an important part of our decision-making process.
Shotton gives other examples of where this works in practice –
- research shows that diners who can see the chef and staff cooking in the restaurant will rate the food higher than those who can’t see them, even though the food is the same
- Dyson’s use of the fact that 5,127 prototypes were made before the product was perfected
- e-commerce sites showing messages about how results are generated, e.g. flights providers searching different airlines are rated higher than those whose results pop up immediately
Use as part of your marketing strategy
So, how can you use this information? Think about what you do and what you have done to deliver the service you provide or make your product and tell your customers about it.
For myself, I have been working in marketing for 28 years – I need to spend some quality time looking back over how many businesses I have worked with over that time (hundreds!) and the features of them. I could talk about the up-skilling that I have done and the different disciplines and territories I have worked in.
What details would make your customers realise that you are the best?
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