Tag Archives: Predictably Irrational

Are You a Marketing Weasel? Am I?

I just bought Predictably Irrational. I haven’t read it yet, but I had to buy it because I just read Jeff Atwood’s 9 Ways Marketing Weasels Will Try to Manipulate You on Coding Horror. Jeff relates his post and the nine ways to that book. Jeff says:

In fact, it’s already happening. Witness 10 Irrational Human Behaviors and How to Leverage Them to Improve Web Marketing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

What the book talks about, according to these posts, is our craziness as consumers with pricing, supply and demand, and behaviors that don’t really make sense, but happen all the time.

  • There is a cost to free, for example. When a truffle costs 15 cents and a chocolate kiss only 1 cent, 73 percent of us choose the truffle, and only 27 percent the kiss. When the kiss is free and the truffle 14 cents, 69 percent of us choose the kiss.
  • Most of us will go out of our way to save $7.00 on a $25 pen, by driving to another store for instance. But almost nobody will drive to a different store to save $7.00 on a $455 suit. Why not? It’s the same $7? (And this one bugs me, because I absolutely know I follow that pattern, and it makes sense to me.).
  • We’re much more likely to do something altruistically, for the public good, than if somebody pays us.
  • We can be manipulated by expectations. Tell us the meal is gourmet, make it expensive, and we’re more likely to think it’s good than if we say it’s cheap but convenient.

And the conclusion, which makes Jeff Atwood uncomfortable, is the sense of “marketing weasels” manipulating us. Or, the less aggressive sense of it, how marketers can capitalize on consumers’ irrational behavior. I have trouble with all this, because it seems like really good stuff for running a business, but I don’t want to see a weasel when I look in the mirror.