How to shift consumer confirmation bias and succeed

Where do your beliefs and opinions come from? If you’re like most people, you feel like your actions are rational and logical, based on your many years of experience. However, in reality, each and every one of us are susceptible to a tricky problem known as confirmation bias. Our beliefs are often based on paying attention to the information that upholds them – while at the same time, tending to ignore the information that challenges them.

Though, for us to manage the multitude of decisions we must make every day; it is human nature to rely on rules of thumb – heuristics – to make quick choices. After we have encountered a similar situation a number of times we can respond as if its on autopilot, but this can lead to poor decisions.

Understanding confirmation bias

The term was first coined by English psychologist Peter Wason in 1960, but its still a very popular phenomenon today! Here’s a great definition from psychology expert Kendra Cherry:

“A confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias that involves favouring information that confirms previously existing beliefs or biases.”

Confirmation Bias is the tendency of people to favour information that confirms their existing beliefs rather than rejecting it, for example, if you Googled “Is Heinz tomato sauce the best”, you would get a list of positive reasons why Heinz is better than any other brand. However, if you were to search “Which tomato sauce brand is the best?” Google would provide you with several brands that all compete against each other. This shows that questions can be phrased one-sided for you to get the biased opinion you’re looking for.

Unfortunately, we all have confirmation bias. Even if you believe you are very open-minded and only observe the facts before coming to conclusions, it’s very likely that some bias will shape your opinion in the end.

What does it mean for businesses and organisations?

Confirmation bias means consumers are more likely to notice a product or service that fits with their current beliefs. They may hold a belief that your product is ‘not for them’ or that the current brand they are using ‘is the best’. However, this doesn’t mean that consumers will never change their opinions…

In every sector, businesses have competition and non-users, the trick is to push them out of their comfort zone and target them with a message when they’re distracted. For example, whilst listening to the radio when driving or during an advertisement break of their favourite TV show – consumers are more open and they will subconsciously absorb the information.

Did you know you can optimise your adverts using Behavioural Science? An optimised advert can have huge benefits for any business – they are more memorable and persuasive.

Target consumers when they are more open to change

In order to change consumers opinions, you have to find the perfect opportunity and for most it is when they’re making a life change such as going to University and moving away from parents or moving into their own home. Consumers have the choice to make their own decisions and decide what they want to buy (they’re going to be the ones doing the shopping now!).

The same is true for other major life events – people who are moving in together are more open to change than a couple that has been cohabiting for 10 years. Think about when new habits may be formed – and target consumers at those times. One of them is big birthdays. People who are 29, 39, 49 have been found more likely to try new things for example.

Speak to their unconscious rather than conscious mind

For non users, the most successful way to get good effectiveness from adverts is when your target audience is in a rush or not fully focused (which is different from communicating with users). This way your message has a chance to work on the unconscious mind of the consumer without resistance from the conscious mind.

Also, speaking to your audience’s unconscious mind allows you to really connect with them on a deeper level, rather than superficial. Some people identify so strongly with brands because they associate a part of themselves or the person they aspire to be. Using images and emotive words during your advertising campaign is particularly powerful, as the unconscious mind reacts much better to emotional messages than rational ones.

Recent evidence has shown that eye-tracking and neuroscience are giving us more understanding to move forward and excel in our own industries. From those new innovative tools, we know that the context in which your ad is consumed influences their reaction e.g., where the advert appears and how they take it in. For example, if a consumer is stressed or in a bad mood, they will take less notice and the advert is less likely to influence their buying behaviour.

Get in touch today to understand your consumer’s unconscious mind.

Change the goalposts

Trying to convince non-believers in your brand with the core criteria in your category is likely to be ignored. If you have been saying for three years that your product is lower in fat than the others and it has not worked – step outside the category parameters. Choose a surprising or unusual fact, even if it is not the main purchase driver. The objective is to break through – once you have the attention then hit the major purchase triggers.

Whether you need insight to adjust your strategies for existing brands to the new normal or are thinking about launching new products we can help you get it right. Emotional Logic is a specialist behavioural insight agency and we offer a range of cost-effective research solutions to ensure your strategy connects with the constantly shifting needs of the consumer. Please get in touch for a free consultation.

POST COVID-19 CONSUMER REPORT

As researchers we not only want to understand and identify the new emerging shopper types and their attitudes which are shaping the world, but also how this happens. We have asked consumers both in the UK and US and put together a free report for brands which reveals the psychological shifts that have occurred. Privacy policy.