This is getting expensive. I just lost yet another set of wireless headphones – maybe in Cinci airport, possibly Boston Logan, or perhaps one day I’ll find them down the back of the sofa. Regardless, this afternoon I set out to buy a replacement, and now an hour later, I look back on the behavioral science ‘forces’ that impacted my experience.

Normally for a small purchase like this I don’t do any research but I know nothing about headphones so I checked out the Red Dot design award winners first, and then Consumer Reports. So far so good – the experts had spoken and I had two good options to choose from. The problem was that when I jumped onto Amazon to make a purchase, the ratings of these two wireless headphones were horrendous – between 2.5 and 3.5 stars – and many of the reviews scathing.

So what do you do when the insights from customer reviews conflicts with the feedback from experts? Well I did what any self-respecting shopper would do in the face of this uncertainty – I gave up! So I am now sitting here writing this waiting for my son to come home from the pool – he’ll know what headphones I should get!

So what does behavioral science tell us about my experience buying headphones?

Many of the brands we work with are realizing that decision-making is dominated by quick, reflexive, low-effort response, and are modifying their marketing and innovation strategies accordingly. Others still have a great deal of upside that can be captured by recognizing and acting upon this dynamic. As I mentioned to one of our pharmaceutical clients last week ‘we can’t always educate our customers into submission!’

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