How AI Will Help Marketers Harness Psychology To Drive Consumer Purchase Decisions


A marketer’s role is to inspire consumers to embrace a product or service, which involves shaping their decision-making process. Equally important is an understanding of psychology and the examination of cognitive preferences, better known as cognitive biases.

Cognitive biases are consistent patterns of deviation from logical reasoning. While we may aspire to make decisions based on objective analysis and unbiased judgment, the reality is that our choices are often influenced by unconscious biases.

These cognitive biases shape and impact consumer behavior, and whether marketers realize it or not, they are likely already leveraging the principles of cognitive bias psychology as a marketing tool. Now that forward-thinking marketers are experimenting with generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools and applications, such as machine learning, it’s a great time to explore how AI could be used to leverage cognitive bias psychology.

Members of our agency team have been experimenting with the use of AI and machine learning for professional applications and have found their capabilities remarkable. We’re excited about the possibilities as the future of advertising evolves before our eyes. While our current AI usage has primarily focused on programming and copywriting, we’re seeing more use cases, including data analysis, image enhancements and creative inspiration, all of which we’re excited to experiment with. Our trial usage of AI has also made us more acutely aware of the technology’s powerful potential when combined with existing marketing techniques, such as the use of cognitive biases.

Cognitive Bias And The Power Of Artificial Intelligence

The marriage of cognitive bias-based marketing techniques and AI has the potential to revolutionize marketing. The integration of AI can empower marketers and advertisersto further elevate the utilization of cognitive biases, creating new possibilities for driving impactful and targeted marketing campaigns. The synergy between cognitive bias and AI may have the power to unlock unprecedented levels of customer engagement in the ever-evolving landscape of marketing.

Here is a closer look at several cognitive biases currently used in marketing and potential ways marketers can leverage AI to harness the power of these cognitive biases to drive better sales outcomes.

Scarcity Effect: Marketers commonly use scarcity effect-based tactics with phrases like “Act now—supplies are limited!” on the understanding that people tend to assign higher value to items that are scarce compared to those that are available in abundance. Marketers can use generative AI to create time-limited offers or a strategy for limited-edition products to drive higher sales.

Cheerleader Effect: Also known as the bandwagon effect, this cognitive bias creates a sense of confidence in consumers when they see others endorsing a product. AI can help marketers conduct research to identify influencers who would maximize this effect with target groups. It can also analyze data to create more personalized ads that are more likely to resonate with individual consumers.

Empathy Gap: People like to think they make rational choices, but the reality is that emotions often drive consumer behavior. The empathy gap is the tendency to underestimate the role emotions play. This is why successful ad campaigns often use both cognitive and emotional appeals to establish a connection with consumers and drive sales.

Marketers can effectively tap into this bias and influence consumer decision-making, with AI allowing for more responsible and responsive advertising. AI tools such as Google’s DeepDream program generate dream-like images, which can help designers create unique designs that appeal to consumers’ emotions.

Humor Effect: People find it easier to remember and recall humorous events, which has led marketers to incorporate humor into their campaigns. In the insurance industry, ads featuring popular recurring characters like Mayhem, Flo, and the Emu and Doug have successfully used humor to engage audiences and leave a lasting impression. Although AI doesn’t have a sense of humor, marketers can use AI to help generate ideas and identify themes that are relatable and grounded, allowing consumers to connect with the message on a personal level.

Loss Aversion: Human beings tend to perceive losses as more significant than gains, so marketers, particularly in the home improvement service industry, often employ a strategy that emphasizes the potential negative consequences of not taking action. AI can help identify what sense of loss a consumer will feel if they do not purchase the product so marketers can utilize that emotion in ads.

Distinction Bias: When individuals compare two similar products side by side, the differences between them become more pronounced than when they are evaluated individually. By using AI to identify differences and emphasize them, marketers can effectively communicate the distinct advantages of their offerings and influence consumer perceptions and purchasing decisions.

Anchoring: Anchoring is a cognitive bias in which individuals place disproportionate emphasis on a specific piece of information when making decisions. Marketers can use AI to leverage this bias by identifying a higher price point or reference point (the anchor), which makes discounted prices appear more attractive and appealing to consumers.

Generative AI is becoming a powerful tool for marketers who are developing strategies, implementing campaigns and designing ads. The integration of AI with cognitive biases can help marketers analyze creative content and optimize marketing performance, ultimately driving increased sales.

That said, it’s important to note that as marketers, it’s critical to commit to using AI ethically and transparently. It can be used to create more inclusive experiences, but humans must remain in the mix to fact-check claims and ensure that ads aren’t deceptive.

By gaining a deeper understanding of these cognitive biases and AI’s potential to leverage them, marketers can lay the groundwork to further enhance marketing strategies and achieve measurable and impactful results. This is a time of radical change in advertising, as a new frontier is being blazed. AI will further empower the harnessing of cognitive biases to effectively elicit stronger and more compelling responses from the target audience. We are on the cusp of the most rapid advertising advancements yet to be seen.

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