Drop the anchor and increase your revenue

We all like to think we are good at making rational and informed decisions, but in truth we are susceptible to being influenced in ways we may not notice.

guy-cookson-hotfootBy Guy Cookson, marketing director, Hotfoot.

One of the most interesting of these cognitive biases is known as anchoring.

Restaurant menus often use anchoring to make us feel comfortable about spending more money. Very expensive bottles are included on wine lists because they anchor our expectations upwards in terms of what we think we ought to be paying.

In a fascinating social experiment researchers in America placed a sign in a supermarket soup aisle that stated: “Limit 12 per customer.”

They found that customers bought an average of seven cans each, far more than the average of only three cans without the sign. Why were people suddenly buying so much soup? Because people had anchored to a higher number and adjusted their behaviour accordingly.

If you visit a charity website to make a donation you will often be presented with three suggested amounts. On the Oxfam website currently the three options are £5, £20 and £42.

The highest amount might seem a bit much, but it serves the purpose of making the middle option seem more reasonable. It anchors our expectations to a higher number, and that has been shown to make us more likely to donate more. Tactics like this, based on insights from behavioural psychology, can radically improve the results of your campaigns.