A Sip of the Contrast Principle

By Maria Valentina Sansur

All future professionals, regardless of the major, have one thing in common: a thirst for knowledge. We like researching about different fields in our major, possible jobs, average salaries and so on. We google everything. However, we sometimes forget about a good source of information: books. In the marketing field, I truly recommend Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion. The book, written by Robert Cialdini, states the most important principles of persuasion. If you master these techniques, you will be able to sell even the most common blue pen. In the book, Cialdini explains the psychology behind customer’s behaviors. He provides a better understanding of influence and he gives tips on how to avoid being persuaded under these principles. Although marketing and psychology might seem to be very different fields, they are directly correlated. If you understand customer’s reactions, you will be able to cause those reactions.

If an item is shown on its own, it can have a different judgement than if it is compared to another item. One of the principles I liked the most was the Contrast Principle. On this principle, Cialdini expresses how the seller can change the perspective of the buyer. It consists of comparing two items to make one look better than the other. Cialdini exemplifies the principle with the strategy used by many real estate agents. This one consists on showing less appealing houses at first and the one house intended to sell at last. This way, the buyer will feel amazed by the last house shown and would not hesitate on making an offer. This type of trick is being used by many sellers in multiple departments. For instance, when you go to a department store thinking about buying two different pieces of clothing, sellers are more likely to show you the most expensive one first. By doing this, you will unconsciously compare prices and decide to get both since the price of the second item did not make a great difference on the total price of the sell. We can also see these comparisons on TV commercial or ads, where the company shows you a low quality product alongside a terrific version of it. If you understand the customer, you engage the customer. Therefore, inform yourself and do not miss these techniques. If you are not applying them, someone else is applying them on you!

Interested on learning the rest of the principles?

Read: Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

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