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Marketing psychology - Removing Barriers, Improving Cognitive Fluency

From marketing to the customer-facing segment of your supply chain, one of the key issues that you have to deal with is how you can make it easier for the customer to buy from our brand. To this end, it is critical for us to examine, delayer and remove as many hoops and obstacles for them to make their decision.

From the time a prospect engages with your brand, the process of leading that individual from looking to considering to buying has to incorporate what behavioural scientists call cognitive fluency. There are two types of barriers in any purchase process. Physical ones and mental ones. As far as possible, they have to be eliminated, and where it is not possible to do so, then reduction or minimisation needs to be the next best alternative course of action.

This comes with getting critical thought processes instilled in the strategic planning of the customer experience. A clothing brand found that most mothers shopping at their outlets usually brought their children along with them. These munchkins would run all over the store and their mothers had to constantly look out for them as they shopped. To improve the customer brand experience, they reduced the barriers of “looking over the shoulder” by lowering shelf heights to make it easier for mothers check on their children playing on the opposite side of the section.

Dixon, Toman and DeLisi (2013) opined that setting up a Customer Ease Score could be a way to go in checking in on the level of difficulty or ‘hoops’ customers have to cross to act on a purchase decision. By identifying and scoring your marketing infrastructure or funnel, you will be able to reduce, eliminate, and better your processes in serving and leading the customer towards a purchase.

Getting a good grasp of how anchoring works in product pricing can be one interesting way to improve cognitive fluency in the customer’s purchase experience too.

For example, during a seasonal sale, the price bands in which you bundle your goods and services, can help customers focus on what they are willing to pay for, and sometimes, even nudge them to spend more.

Entry level (1x) > Mid tier (2x) > Premium tier (5x)

By creating a low priced, entry level bundled product, followed by a mid tier which bundles more products and is priced at double that of the entry level, and then a premium tier which stretches the equation to 5x (the entry level), customers who are unable to decide which one to get will anchor themselves on the lowest and highest price points before defaulting to the middle. On many occasions, this has worked and it is usually the mid-tier products that get sold-out before the other two.

This has also worked in real estate especially when it comes to the new launch sales of condominium units. The anchoring comes in with the price of the highest floor or penthouse unit, which sets the tone for the estate and the perception of how the market should value the project before scoping down the price band that the customer would be in. When it comes to resale properties, real estate agents practice the use of neighbouring projects and their resale price points to provide an acceptable range.

Apply this to education and you will see how quickly the power of anchoring catches on. Private tuition in Shanghai (prior to the crackdown by officials) go to as high as $460 per hour. Private childcare centres in Singapore are as high as $2,800 a month. MBA courses for top tier business schools are usually in the six figure range. What justifies the amount? Truth be told, the marketer sets the tone by surveying the market, and decides which band the business will play in. Remember that for every price point, there is usually a group of customers who are willing to count it as "reasonable" to pay. All the marketer needs is to find the one price point with a sizeable critical customer mass to serve and allow the business to thrive.

The objective behind anchoring is this - Humans cannot help but compare and they need a starting point to set the tone or benchmark for everything else that they will then use to make a decision. By being the first to set the initial point of reference as a marketer, you will make it easier for customers to take reference from and prevent them from aiming ambiguously.

Remember: Ambiguity is a cognitive friction that must be dealt with swiftly to smoothen the customer journey.

Reference: Dixon, Toman and DeLisi (2013). The Effortless Experience: Conquering the new battleground for customer loyalty.

Copyright SYL+JAS (c) 2022. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or rewritten in any form without expressed permission from the agency.


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