Framing. In the social and behavioral science worlds, framing can be defined as the building of concepts or perspectives on how individuals, groups, communities, societies, and businesses perceive and communicate about a certain reality. When we examined the topic of framing years ago, it made it easy to believe that the "best" product can be based on the environment in which the interaction happened.
One simple example of framing is the "first mover" advantage. When your brand is the first and only player offering a certain type or service, it is perceived as being one of the best things in the business as long as it satisfies a gap in the market. Regardless of if the product, once others enter the market, isn't particularly good in comparison, the brand wins by being the first to do it. We see that with Apple's App store versus the Android Marketplace/Google Play. The Android marketplace is much bigger and more malleable than Apple's, yet people perceive that the opposite is true.
Another one of our favorite examples is one told by Duke professor Dan Ariely. Imagine coming up to two restaurants. Restaurant A is open, yet no one is inside, and Restaurant B has a small wait with people sitting outside and laughing. Based on no real information, the majority of consumers will pick Restaurant B. The same could happen if both restaurants were empty, but one restaurant had four stars on the door and the other had three. Though it could just be the design of the brands, the one that seems to be better due to our conditioning would be the one with more stars, even if we have no idea what the stars mean.
Products come and go. A good product can fail with the wrong framing, and a bad product could last longer than it should with the right framing. Influence is a powerful tool, and we as marketers need to make sure we place our goods and services in the best light.
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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