Pop Corn

From Cup-o-Noodles to 55-Gallon Barrels: Marketing Decoys Revealed!

All I can say is “Thank you!” Your overwhelming response to my previous blog, ‘Because’ Is the Secret to Compliance (read it here), has touched my heart. From the many clever ‘because’ persuasion techniques you’ve used in your communications to me or the heartwarming appreciation of the story and photo of my Pops, your engagement and support has been humbling. While I may not have another fantastic story to share today, I promise you this week’s blog will be just as valuable, if not more!

Now, let’s get to it! This week, we’re delving into the captivating realm of marketing decoys, what they are, how to spot them, and, more importantly, how to use them.

Imagine this: you’ve just scored tickets to Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (check out the trailer). You can’t wait to hear the songs on this mixtape, but first you must stock up sweets and treats from the snack bar. To prepare for this moment you went to the extent of taking out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to ensure you could purchase a drink, some candy and popcorn. You are spoiling yourself tonight! The moment you’ve been waiting on arrives, and the snack bar attendant cheerfully asks, ‘Can I help you?’ You blurt out immediately, ‘I’ll take a gallon of Diet Coke, an industrial-sized box of Milk Duds, and some popcorn.’ You are ill prepared for what comes next.

Milk DudsAs your teenage salesperson chomps their gum, they respond, “Sure thing! What size we talking?” while pointing to three containers that are anything but ordinary. Picture this: the first container, let’s call it the ‘Cup-o-Noodles’ size (getcha some), the second the size of a Venti at Starbucks, and the third? Well, it could double as a 55-gallon barrel! And the prices? The ‘Cup-o-Noodles’ size is $8, the ‘Starbucks Venti’ $11, and the lifetime supply of popcorn? Just $13. Obviously, you respond, “I’ll take the ‘Humungo,’ please!” Go big or go home, right?

Well, you have just experienced the marketing, Decoy. A “choice” that is intended to persuade you to choose an option that you feel is a better choice but may ultimately be more profitable to the ‘house.’ It could be the ‘Cup-o-Noodles’ size with the highest margin or the ‘Humungo’ that squeezes a few extra dollars out of you at minimal extra popcorn cost.

So now you understand marketing decoys are out there and they are out to get you. Just like Robert Downing, Jr, in Sherlock Holmes (see the trailer) you need to hone your senses to be aware of the subtle clues to identify the true intentions behind what seem like tempting offers.

From carefully analyzing pricing structures, BOGOs to “Do you want fries with that?”, you will want to understand the psychology behind “choice” to become a better consumer.

On the flip side, if you are looking to up your marketing game, you need to understand the psychological judo available to persuade your clients or customers to make better choices that align with their wants and desires.

Looking forward to hearing what ‘decoys’ you see out there.

Till next week!




PS. Check out this great real-world entertaining example described by Dan Ariely at his TED talk, ‘Are we in control of our decisions?’  (watch it here).

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