Subscribe to MRN

The Power of Social Proof in Customer Communications

We came across an interesting and relevant passage in an article re behavioral economics - Delighting Without Asking

“Another prevalent cognitive bias is social proof. Take those placards in your hotel bathroom, for example, urging you to recycle your towel for the good of the environment. Sometimes they give you statistics on the millions of gallons of water saved when you choose to hang your towel on the hook to use another day.

Behavioral science shows us that information like this doesn’t really change behavior. But social proof does. Noah Goldstein experimented with the towel placards by adding an element of social comparison. Indicating that “Most other people who stay in this hotel recycle their towels,” increased towel recycling by 26 percent. Amazingly, adding a layer of specificity to an arbitrary “in-group,” “Most other people who stay in this room recycle their towels,” increased recycling another seven percent! We are indeed a social species. The leading customer engagement platform for utilities, Opower, leveraged this effect by issuing Home Energy Report letters, which compared each household’s energy usage to that of comparable neighbors. This social comparison caused recipients to decrease their energy usage by up to 6.3 percent among the highest energy users.”

In what ways do you think this observation might be applied to communicating the customer’s responsibility to recycle the right things?

Nudge Theory offers a similar concept that may have some relevance here.