8 Common Consumer Misconceptions Marketing Must Overcome

8 Common Consumer Misconceptions Your Marketing Must Overcome

Making it even more difficult to connect with marketing messages are eight subconscious mistakes people commonly make. These common consumer misconceptions can negatively affect your business in terms of sales, referrals and word of mouth marketing.

No, consumers aren’t playing mind games, they are simply falling prey to common consumer misconceptions.

Success stories in business, especially over the long term, rarely occur without effective marketing.  While marketing may begin by talking about the brand story and the benefits and features of products or services, it’s important to remember that common consumer misconceptions can disrupt the buying cycle and derail sales, in the process.

For instance, when we talk about branding, we often talk about building positive perceptions by providing positive customer experiences at every point of contact.  The longer the buying cycle and the more expensive or critical it is for the consumer to make the right choice, the more important this process of perception-building becomes.

Fast Company recently shared a list of eight subconscious mistakes the human brain makes.  We decided to put a marketing spin on this list to help marketers overcome consequent consumer misconceptions that may arise from these mistakes, or capitalize on these predispositions when it benefits their business.

8 Common Consumer Misconceptions Your Marketing Must Be Able to Overcome

1.  Surrounding ourselves with information (and people) that corresponds with our beliefs.

Similar to the idea of “groupthink” in an organization, confirmation bias is the tendency to surround ourselves with people or ascribe to the veracity of data that corresponds to what we already believe – or want to believe – to be true.

Common consumer misconceptions don’t always affect your marketing negatively. This subconscious ‘mistake’ could actually help consumers connect with your business more personally and lay the foundation for brand loyalty when you use marketing that:

  • helps consumers feel that you are all “in the same boat”
  • makes them believe your organization’s success dependent on the benefits they receive as a result of doing business with you
  • makes the consumer feel that your organization is in sync with them in some important way (philosophical, political, philanthropic, etc.)

2.  We often get it backwards when it comes to cause and effect.

The Fast Company article points to the common misconception that successful competitive swimmers are born with a “swimmer’s body” when, in fact, it’s the reverse.  Swimmers develop specific muscles and agility as a result of all the swimming, the same way that runners develop “runner’s muscles” and agility, weightlifters develop certain muscles and agility, and so on.

If your business sells services or products that require use over time to be effective or produce desired results, it’s important to educate consumers through your marketing in order to encourage them to stick with the process and follow recommended procedures.

Your marketing may also need to address common consumer misconceptions about cause and effect head on, so that consumers who have self-eliminated themselves from your audience might be convinced to take another look at your product or service.

3.  We often missing what we’ve lost (or spent) more than we appreciate what we’ve gained. 

People tend to over-emphasize loss over gain.  This is one of the reasons that a consumer will stick with a competitor’s product or service rather than switch to yours even if you offer a better price and a higher value, if they perceive that they will lose something in the process.

To overcome this tendency, make sure that your marketing demonstrates that the consumer stands to gain by switching, even if it means they will lose what they spent on a competitor’s product or service or experience a penalty for early contract cancellation.

4.  We aren’t always logical when we predict “the odds” of something occurring. 

Many people tend to believe in balance vs. truly predicting the odds of something occurring. For instance, the article notes that someone might tend to believe that there’s a greater odds of a coin landing heads up after a string of four or five tails up landings.  In reality, the chance of the coin landing heads or tails up remains at a constant 50%.

Consumers may find it hard to accept that they can’t get the results they want from a competitor’s product or service, even if they have had negative results over time.  For these consumers, you may need to provide samples or other experiential marketing in order to demonstrate differentiators that can affect their results if they switch to your brand or upgrade to a product with more features and benefits.

5.  It’s easy for us to rationalize purchases of things we don’t even really want.

This might sound like anti-marketing, but it might be important to remember that all sales are not created equal.  If you talk a customer into buying something they don’t really need, won’t fully satisfy their need or desire or they simply aren’t ready to buy, you stand a good chance of creating a dissatisfied customer. Dissatisfied customers can quickly become unhappy to the point that they not only leave, but leave forever, and take their friends with them!

The last thing you want is for your customers to have buyer’s remorse after doing business with you! Make sure that you have a strong understanding of your target markets as well as their buying signals. Don’t shortcut the buying cycle or be in such a rush to close that you overlook warning signs that this might not be the right product (or the right time) for your customer.

6.  We base buying selections on anchors. 

Called the “anchoring effect,” this is the tendency people have to make choices based on comparative values, rather than simply choosing the product or service most likely to satisfy a need or desire.

You may be able to increase sales by providing options that demonstrate the value and actually point consumers toward your higher-priced items.  We talk about this in pricing strategy number nine from our recent article:  10 Ways to Price Products to Sell:

Add tiered pricing levels.  This pricing strategy calls for creation and pricing of products at two or three choice levels (good, better, best).  Interestingly enough, in the examples cited, when given two options, consumers most often chose the higher priced option. When given three options the mid-range item was chosen most often.

7. People tend to believe their memories more than facts. 

It makes sense; the last impression we have of a business or brand tends to be what we remember most about it (and therefore what we believe to be most true about the company or a specific product or service).   For marketing, this underlies the importance that the customer experience be consistently scrutinized from end to end in order to identify improvements.

It also underscores the need to ensure that the end of the customer experience or the last touch they have before effectively returning to the beginning of the next buying cycle is a positive one.

8.  We give more credence to stereotypes than we’d like to admit.

If there are stereotypes associated with your type of industry, business or even your professional job title, you may have to overcome negative presuppositions on the part of consumers in order to convince them to do business with you.

On the other hand, if your business outperforms or exceeds customer expectations relative to consumer stereotypes about your industry, you stand to gain in terms of customer loyalty, reviews, referrals and positive word of mouth marketing.