“The fear of loss is more powerful than the hope for gain.”
Widely disseminated among marketers, this quote is adapted from the theory of loss aversion in economics. Essentially, what it means is that people would prefer to take action to avoid loss than to acquire gains. Another way to put it: Losing $20 is more psychologically impactful than winning $20.
In our world, this principle, if loosely and liberally interpreted, might suggest your prospective customer is more likely to buy a facial moisturizer to avoid the formation of wrinkles (i.e. the loss of youthful appearance) than to gain more radiant skin. Or s/he will buy your probiotic supplement to avoid getting, say, stomach issues (i.e. the loss of eating or visiting the restroom comfortably) than to gain a robust immune system.
Hmmm… is this really true for the beauty and health industry?
Fear incites behavioral change — but so does hope — and you need a blend of both, particularly in an industry that’s all about the psycho-emotional benefits just as much as it is about the physical.
The key is you need to ensure both emotions are produced from statements you can back up.
For example, let’s say you’re marketer who sells a beauty protein powder being promoted as an “inside-out” solution for women who are already in pretty good shape, but still want to supplement their diets with something that will enhance their overall appearance.
Fear-based approach: Avoiding belly fat
Message: Take our supplement to avoid the loss of your nice body.
Backing: Belly fat is a real thing and it’s generally possible to get rid of it. CHECK.
Backing: Your supplement is backed by hundreds of anecdotal evidence from women who have followed your guidelines to a tee and are feeling less waistband tension from their yoga pants. CHECK.
Hope-based approach: Gaining confidence
Message: Take our supplement and you will emotionally feel even better than you already do.
Backing: Indeed, many people are more confident when they are satisfied with their bellies, as shown by their increased willingness to wear a bikini in public. CHECK.
Backing: You have testimonials flowing in explaining that your supplement has improved numerous facets of your customers’ lives, including their newfound love for shopping and improved bedroom acrobatics. CHECK.
Keep this two-prong approach in mind whenever you write about your solutions.
Don’t focus only on loss or only on gain. Start by reviewing your product descriptions, packaging and web copy. Do you explain the avoidance of loss as well as the acquisition of gain?