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Marketers Need to Choose Their Defaults Wisely

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

There’s a remarkable (and very predictable) fact about the human race that a great marketer accepts as truth: people from all walks of life usually take the default option when offered multiple choices. This fact makes it very important to choose default choices for your customers very intentionally, as it’s essentially one of the best “free” ways to influence customer behavior in your favor.

Consumers Accept Defaults

As an example, retailers have learned over time that the average consumer doesn’t think as much about decisions as you might expect. If you put a decision in front of them, they’ll often simply accept the default option because they are uncertain about their choice.

Applying this idea to something we all know, a common decision offered to a customer is how they prefer to communicate back and forth with a particular brand. Email is typically the default option and also the one chosen, or “accepted,” most often by consumers. This is no accident, and most marketers prefer to communicate by email. While important in retail, this concept is applicable everywhere choices or decisions are offered and responses can be influenced.

Looking Around the Industry

Surprisingly (or not), consumers are even more likely to accept more expensive options when presented as the default. Dell, Apple, and other PC manufacturers know well that customers will upgrade to more expensive options when those options are presented as the default choice on a list of options. Think of the last time you ordered a laptop and how often the larger hard drive was X dollars more and was the default choice. Having a brand-preferred choice already selected is momentum that takes effort by the customer to overcome.

You probably haven’t set up customer choices with this in mind, and should audit the places where choices are offered to see where defaults can be chosen more wisely. The positive results from restructuring default choices can be significant.

To learn more about other factors of success in retail customer loyalty, check out our webinar on the topic: Nudges, Influences and Rewards Part 2: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.

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