What are you more afraid of: sharks or automobiles? The ocean or an in-ground pool? Which are you more likely to do: walk while intoxicated or drive while intoxicated? What is more terrifying: a terrorist attack or a water heater exploding?
More than likely, as humans, we automatically assume that the scariest or most colorful fear correlates to the highest probability of happening. We see that in today's atmosphere, with the many events going on in the States and beyond. Though it is unwise to block these events out, it is equally unwise to treat these events as highly probable.
From the opening's examples, more people die from automobile accidents than shark attacks, more people drown in in-ground pools than in the ocean, more people die walking drunk than driving drunk (Freakonomics study), and having a house blown up due to a gas water heater is more likely to happen than a terrorist attack hitting your home.
Yet, those “boring” occurrences aren't nearly as sexy or brow-raising as their counterparts.
How does this apply to advertising?
When introducing or repositioning a product, marketers need to take into account what may hinder consumers when thinking of switching to your product. What exactly are the switching costs that the consumer is considering? What education is needed to dispel any fear or risk?
We saw this years ago in the egg industry. Fear came that eggs were bad for you because of their cholesterol content. A massive education campaign ensued, backed by science, exclaiming that eggs weren't only one of the cleanest proteins out there, but it is worse to sit and do nothing versus eating eggs and being active.
The risk was eliminated, and eggs survived.
So when you introduce a product, or when you are analyzing sales and the adoption numbers aren't exactly as high as you wanted them to be, there may be a risk component associated with the product that hasn't been fully handled. Use your advertising and marketing arsenal to properly and swiftly correct the situation.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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