Do you think alcohol is overrated

Rational thinking is overrated in marketing

By Fabio Aresu *

Behavioral economics is concerned with how human behavior differs from rational thinking in economic situations. In other words, when customers are asked how they act in a particular situation, it is usually at odds with what they actually do. Although studies and trials have existed since the early 1970s, companies are only gradually using the observations. Decisions are stressful for the human brain and require a lot of energy.

The brain seeks shortcuts
In order to save energy, abbreviations are searched for automatically by making assumptions. To put it simply, emotional aspects override rational thinking if there are not enough facts to make a decision. So much for the theory. There are numerous simple tests and experiments that show very clearly how decision-making processes work. A small example: test persons who previously stated that they regularly consume alcoholic beer are invited to a tasting. They are asked to describe the differences between the beers in identical cups and to argue which one they would buy and why. One mug is labeled as containing alcohol with the normal product name, the other labeled "Alcohol-free beer" of the same brand. Between 70 and 80 percent of the test persons list the advantages of ┬źnormal┬╗ beer. Only: There is non-alcoholic beer in both cups.

Context more important than information
In this test, the brain is overdriven because the context is directed to a different type of decision and the information has been taken over one-to-one. If the test persons first drink an alcoholic beer or are asked which the alcohol-free beer is, they usually recognize the difference immediately. The context of the information is therefore more important than the information itself. This is only one example of numerous topics in behavioral economics. However, it clearly shows how marketing concepts must be set up in the future - the crucial information must be available. SMEs in particular can benefit from this knowledge, as the efficiency is considerably greater than with conventional marketing measures. Because unlike in the example described, where the test subjects are duped, the effect can also be used positively for customers and companies by presenting real advantages in a new context.

* Fabio Aresu is a brand architect, lecturer in business communication and specialist in branding, corporate identity and PR at Markenkern AG, www.markenkern.ch