Successfully marketing an undesirable product
Monday, April 16, 2012/
Imagine you are marketing a service that deliberately gives people a disease, is physically painful, requires them to come to you and they have to pay. Welcome to flu shot season!
Two Australian pharmacy chains are approaching the task of enrolling flu shot customers in subtly different ways, so let’s look at my reaction and, perhaps more meaningfully, the behavioural techniques at play.
Example 1. Arm yourself against the flu: Terry White Chemists
- “Arm yourself against the flu”. Hmm… clever arm joke… except now I’m thinking about the painful jab in my arm.
- Date range is kind of helpful, though I’m not sure if this means you’ll only take bookings for that period and after that I’m on my own. If you are creating a sense of urgency why not provide a countdown of days left?
- $25, not sure whether that’s good value or not and an asterisk makes me nervous that there are conditions attached. Yes, I was right, maybe I’m not eligible.
- Nurse practitioner in store. Good for them.
- Good information that no prescription is needed.
- Quick and convenient. What does quick mean? Why is it convenient? To whom?
- Background image of a needle. Are you kidding?!!
Example 2. Get the jab not the flu: Priceline
- Get the jab not the flu is likewise a funny line but also effective because it helps me understand the trade between outlay (mild “jab”) and outcome (avoiding flu).
- Nice use of “jab” to diminish the pain of the experience.
- Why wouldn’t I? Well, of course there’s no real reason not to!
- A $30 vaccination protects me? Hey, I like to be protected and $30 seems reasonable.
- No prescription and only 10 minutes. Yes, 10 minutes is doable.
- Two options to book – online or in store so there’s no excuse.
- Background image of a hip young chick. Well if she can do it, so can I, plus she makes the band-aid look cool!
Lessons from jab central
Every aspect of marketing should be regarded as an opportunity in choice architecture, and you have the power and responsibility to shape the behavioural outcome of your communications. Both ads were created with the objective of stimulating flu shot bookings. Both ads were presented as banners on their home page. Both ads articulated price and attempted to create a sense of value.
And yet the behavioural influence exerted by “Get the jab not the flu” is far stronger than “Arm yourself against the flu” because it overcomes status quo bias (ie. where we can’t be bothered to get a flu shot) by creating a sense of scale between what we have to gain versus what we have to lose. The loss (discomfort of injection, price, inconvenience) is minimised to such an extent that the gain (avoiding flu) seems appealing enough to act.
So if there is one call to action from flu season it is this; you must overcome our innate tendency to do nothing by ensuring the gain of changing behaviour exceeds the loss. If a jab can do it, so can you. Happy jabbing.
Bri Williams runs People Patterns Pty Ltd, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues.
Bri’s book, “22 Minutes to a Better Business“, about how behavioural economics can help you tackle everyday business issues, is available through the Blurb bookstore.