- Mon, August 01 2011
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
Picking up from where I left off from yesterday’s post, I’m again highlighting again the work of Roger Dooley’s wonderful Neuromarketing blog. Today, we’re focused on “behavioral licensing.” If your cause involves trying to get people to do things that are healthier, this post is for you.
Here’s the gist: when people take vitamins or exercise or otherwise act in a way they perceive enhances their health, you might think that would inspire healthier choices. In fact, the reverse if often true. The initial healthy act prompts people to “reward” themselves with unhealthy behavior. In other words, a vitamin can be a license to misbehave (like by eating french fries):
Researchers at the National Sun Yat-Sen University tested subjects by telling subjects they were receiving a vitamin pill or a placebo, and then monitoring their behavior in several situations. In all cases the pill was a placebo. The group who thought they had consumed a vitamin pill were more likely to show less interest in exercise, to show more interest in enjoyable but potentially unhealthy “hedonic” activities, and to choose a buffet meal vs. healthy organic fare. In another experiment, the “vitamin” group walked shorter distances than the placebo group.
Roger Dooley notes, “From a marketing standpoint, the counter-intuitive behavior is interesting. While one might think that vitamin-poppers would be a great marketing target for health-related products and services, that might not be the case. It’s still possible that in the general population, vitamin takers would indeed be more interested in, say, exercise gear. Or, perhaps not– maybe they would be great prospects for decadent cuisine or alcoholic beverages. As usual, testing is critical – basing a major campaign decision on logic (or gut feeling) alone is a recipe for disaster.”
Interesting food for thought (pun intended).