When you’re trying to cut down on processed food or eating out, the more you notice the fast food restaurants on your way home. If you’ve recently bought a car, you’d see the same car on every corner. If you love pink, you’ll most likely notice all the pink shirts in a store over other colors. This behavior is called attentional bias.
Attentional bias is a person’s tendency to see certain elements or selectively pay attention to something while overlooking other aspects. It explains why sometimes, people can’t concentrate on things even if they want to because something else has already captured their attention.
Some experts think that attentional bias is related to human evolution. Attentional bias is why people usually remember or notice images that use fear or threats as a tactic. The first humans often faced dangerous situations (such as a wild animal running after them), which required them to concentrate and have selective attention/
In marketing, attentional bias is used to capture and focus attention on the message you want to come across.
Here are specific strategies that a business can implement to use attentional bias to their advantage:
Repetition creates attentional bias.
Repeating something can establish an attentional bias. Repetition is why most people, even kids, recognize logos instantly. They’ve seen these logos over and over again throughout their lives. For example, McDonald’s consistently shows its logo throughout their stores and packaging. You’ll recognize the McDonald’s logo no matter what country you live in or how old you are.
Let’s look at a specific example you can apply to your business. For instance, you’re simultaneously preparing flyers, your website, and your email newsletter. It’s essential to have consistent messaging throughout a customer’s journey, including your business logo in all marketing collaterals. This repetition makes people recognize your brand more quickly and give it attention.
Emphasize positive feelings.
Glowing reviews and positive testimonials create positive reactions towards a business or brand. For example, your business website can display high consumer ratings, positive reviews, and partnerships with well-known brands. Doing this generates positive feelings in your customers and makes them pay attention to your brand more than others.
Another way to emphasize positive feelings is to appeal to emotions. Appealing to a customer’s emotions is not new. We’ve all seen how ads use our emotions to elicit positive feelings towards a brand. An excellent example was Coca-Cola’s “Choose Happiness” campaign in 2015. It encouraged customers to share happy memories and experiences and made consumers associate these happy feelings with drinking soda.
Avoid too many choices.
When people are presented with too many choices, it becomes harder to make a decision. This situation is also due to attentional bias. Customers with too many choices often choose none of the options, resulting in a loss of a sale or conversion. When you limit the choices available, it’s easier for the brain to focus and decide on an option.
For example, if your has to choose between eight colors of a dress, it might take them longer to decide on which color to buy than if they were presented with just three colors. When their attention is divided too often, it becomes harder to focus and make a decision.
Attentional bias is an essential psychological concept every marketer should use to their advantage. The next time you are deciding on an image to use or how to design a flyer, keep this in mind and maximize the effect on your customers.
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