Marketing To Reinforce Previous Choices

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Recent research shows that consumers often think the grass is greener somewhere else.

There are many consumer decisions that we have to make over and over again, such as selecting a restaurant to eat at in our neighborhood or deciding which store to shop at for groceries. The repetitive nature of these decisions provides us with the opportunity to learn from past choices and improve our future choices. However, new research from the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research shows that our quest for improvement may result in a failure to appreciate the value of our current choice.

In a series of eight experiments, Tom Meyvis (New York University) and Alan Cooke (University of Florida) find that when consumers expect to make similar choices in the future, they selectively pay attention to information that suggests that an alternative would be better. These consumers also tend to disregard information that indicates their current choice is the best possible choice.

This is one of the reasons you often see advertising that isn't really designed to attract new customers as much as it is designed to reinforce the decisions of existing/previous customers. Sometimes it's the little things that make a difference, and following up with buyers to make them feel like they made a good choice is a good way to keep them coming back.