Marketing Should Take Advantage of People Being Predictably Irrational


Predictably Irrational is a book by Dan Ariely that explores and challenges the rationality of people’s decision making process. Ariely says that “my goal, by the end of this book, is to help you fundamentally rethink what makes you and the people around you tick. I hope to lead you there by presenting a wide range of scientific experiments, findings, and anecdotes that are in many cases quite amusing. Once you see how systematic certain mistakes are–how we repeat them again and again–I think you will begin to learn how to avoid some of them.”

To test out the explanations in the book, I went out and did a similar experiment. 

Purpose:  One reason that marketing exists is that people’s perspectives could be influenced by all kinds of factors, so the right marketing strategy could lead to more likings from the customers, thus more sales. I would like to find out if this is true and what types of strategies are preferred by people.

Method: I interviewed 40 people, 20 as one group and 20 as the other group.  I used the subject of a website called, which is a blog featuring latest scoops of fashion, hip-hop music, fitness, etc. I showed the website to the 40 people I interviewed, give them different descriptions of the website, and ask them to rate the website on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest.

The description that I gave to the first group is: This website is started by a group of young people passionate about latest trend of fashion and hip-hop music. They work really hard on this: they go to the latest product releases; they try to look for original artists in local communities, record their music and promote them on the website.

The description that I gave to the second group is: This website is part of the PR effort of a record company. The company hired a social media intern to put together info he finds interesting related to fashion and hip-hop music. This intern also does promotion of the company on facebook and twitter.

Result: The average score given by the first group of 20 is 7.5, and the average score given by the second group of 20 people is 6.8.

Implications: This small-scale experiment shows that different stories of the same product could receive different feedback from people. People tend to like products that have a better story behind them. In this case, the better story is that the website is the brainchild and sweat effort of a group of passionate young people, which is better that a promotion of a record company.

So companies, in order to increase the sales of certain products, should try to make their products more likable, and one method could be giving your products a good story. Then people would feel more sentimentally attached with the products, and thus would be more likely to consume them.


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