Yesterday I started a new book on Audible, Influence by Robert B. Cialdini

I love Audible because I don’t need to sit down and free myself to actually read a book. #BusySchedule 

To make the best out of my commute, I like to listen to books while driving, and of course, whatever I am listening to is dependant on my mood. 

In the morning on my way to work, I was preparing to play my Audible in my car. I wanted to save the few seconds that I could be wasting in the car to open the application so I did that in the lift. I didn’t have my earphones on and so one of my neighbors asked me, “Is it a good book?” I replied, “I am just starting.” 

I am just starting and I do love it so far. The reason why I can say this so confidently is that I have decided to get the Kindle version of it as well. 

Influence is the 6th book that I am listening to/ reading about consumer behavior/ marketing. Some concepts keep on coming up and repeated as I explore more. Some are unique to each book. It’s the 6th book, but if you ask me, I would tell, I wish it was the first or second book. 

#MentalNote if you are into consumer behavior and want to learn more about it. Influence is a must read. 

The reason I like it so much is that Robert explains how we get “trapped” into the “tricks” set by marketers or salespeople. He explains the behavioral biases and psychology principles that shape our perception and decision-making process… and then how we fall into the trap. This is not to say that knowing about the trick can save you, you might still be influenced by them. 

Other books help marketers get to us, which basically helps me learn the same concepts. It’s just I like that Robert and I are on the same mental page.


Moving on from my initial admiration of the book.

There was an excerpt from chapter 1 “Weapons of Influence” that made me smile, and I really wanted to share it with you. It’s a letter that Sharon shared with her parents.

“Dear Mother and Dad: 

Since I left for college I have been remiss in writing and I am sorry for my thoughtlessness in not having written before. I will bring you up to date now, but before you read on, please sit down. You are not to read any further unless you are sitting down, okay? Well, then, I am getting along pretty well now. The skull fracture and the concussion I got when I jumped out the window of my dormitory when it caught on fire shortly after my arrival here is pretty well healed now. I only spent two weeks in the hospital and now I can see almost normally and only get those sick headaches once a day. Fortunately, the fire in the dormitory, and my jump, was witnessed by an attendant at the gas station near the dorm, and he was the one who called the Fire Department and the ambulance. He also visited me in the hospital and since I had nowhere to live because of the burntout dormitory, he was kind enough to invite me to share his apartment with him. It’s really a basement room, but it’s kind of cute. He is a very fine boy and we have fallen deeply in love and are planning to get married. We haven’t got the exact date yet, but it will be before my pregnancy begins to show. Yes, Mother and Dad, I am pregnant. I know how much you are looking forward to being grandparents and I know you will welcome the baby and give it the same love and devotion and tender care you gave me when I was a child. The reason for the delay in our marriage is that my boyfriend has a minor infection which prevents us from passing our pre-marital blood tests and I carelessly caught it from him. Now that I have brought you up to date, I want to tell you that there was no dormitory fire, I did not have a concussion or skull fracture, I was not in the hospital, I am not pregnant, I am not engaged, I am not infected, and there is no boyfriend. However, I am getting a “D” in American History, and an “F” in Chemistry and I want you to see those marks in their proper perspective. 

Your loving daughter, 

Sharon”

Cialdini PhD, Robert B.. Influence (Collins Business Essentials) (p. 16). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.

In Robert’s words:

 “Sharon may be failing chemistry, but she gets an “A” in psychology.”


The principle that Sharon used in her letter with her parents is called “human perception, the contrast principle”, where the order of how things are presented to us affects our perception on the way we see things and the difference between them. 

Example,

You hold a glass of water at room temperature after holding a hot glass, you will perceive it colder than it actually is. 

You hold a glass of water at room temperature after holding a cold glass, you will perceive it hotter than it actually is.


It basically explains every time we got intrigued to buy products/ services just because they say it has been reduced from AED 1,299 to AED 899. We think we got a good deal because we have “saved” so much money in this deal. Our brain has set the baseline for the produce as AED 1,299, the higher price, and so we place a high value on the product. When we see AED 899, we immediately think we just saved AED 400. In reality, though, we actually just spent AED 899. Whether or not we had this budgeted for our purchase is not the primary influencer in making us think it’s a good deal… or making us buy the product. 

Perhaps your budget was only AED 700. You would be thinking, “Technically speaking, that “great” deal is AED 199 more than my budget, but then again I just saved AED 400.” 

In this scenario, you didn’t save AED400. You just spent AED 199 more than my budget. 

Our thinking process deceives us into thinking it’s a good deal. 


Ok, maybe I could be confusing you here… so to set the ground clear, let’s answer this question: 

How do marketers trick us into buying expensive products? 

Your budget: AED 700 

The actual price: AED 1,299 

How do you perceive it? 

Oh, wow, that’s actually a high quality product. 

This is assuming you have an idea on how much you are willing to spend for the product (in this case AED 600) and so the price of AED 1,299, which is almost double your budget, translates to your brain… High quality. Premium.

We have engraved in our minds that expensive is equal to good, high quality, premium. You get what you pay for. 

The reduced price: AED AED 899 

How do you perceive it? 

Hmmm… It’s only AED 200 difference from my original budget and I will get a premium product. I know it’s a bit out of my budget. Maybe it’s worth it? 


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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: How Bath & Body Works screwed up their pricing | Tales of an Excessive Spender – Sherwette

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