Making choices: Little things can matter a lot

Crawford Hollingworth
The Behavioural Architects

Throughout the day our decisions are influenced by the context in which we make them. Choices aren't made in a vacuum so marketers need to understand the (often small and seemingly insignificant) factors that can have substantial effects on how people choose. Here are four ways in which decision-making may be affected.

Navigating choice via extremes

Part of the context for choice is the awareness of the other options available. We navigate from extreme choices and tend to pick the middle option as a compromise, a phenomenon known as 'extremeness aversion'. So introducing a third option to two existing options can change preferences and context considerably.

For example, a Thames cruise company in London added a premium dinner package cruise option to its range of cruises. It included some particularly splendid champagne and was priced much higher than the other standard dinner cruise packages. As anchoring theory predicts, the company found that demand for the new premium package was fairly low, but people used it as a reference point to value the other packages more highly. As a result, the company saw an average transaction value increase of 11 per cent in dinner package sales.