Product psychology: How unconsciously users fall for charming products

All users at some point or the other fall for the charm of products in the market despite of fighting to become a conscious buyer. They become unresistant towards key attractions that products can offer. Sometimes these attractions are very physical and tangible in nature but mostly we fall for the intangible charm carefully created for products using key results derived from a domain called product psychology.

Product psychology is a domain that explains to an entrepreneur, designer or marketer, the need to have the knowledge on how to control or maintain a product from initiation to sales. It also specifies on why we behave the way we do.

A product idea gets initiated from behavioural secret

New technologies come, user behaviour shifts like a monkey, Priorities and choices change. So, designers need to think on how they can change user behaviour with the tools they have. When the brand ‘nivea’ asked users to milk wash rather than facewash, it became a need for the users to have milk wash. Every product is initiated and planned to fulfil a need. If there is no need, the makers create a need after analysing the behaviour of the users towards similar products. 

Below are few psychological principles that compliment behavioural secret:

1. The idea of Endowed Progress

The users who are provided with a feeling of an artificial advancement towards a goal show more persistence towards achieving that goal. When a person is asked to continue a task that is presented as half complete, he has the tendency to complete it with more efforts. The closer the user gets to the task completion; the user increases the efforts to close the last little gap. This technique is used in gaming where the first level of the game is already automated and demonstrated for the user and the user picks it up from there and eventually the game is habituated. There are two key elements while using this technique in product design: One to make sure an increase towards like likelihood of task completion (sign up pages) and two is to decrease the completion time to suck user’s inn

2. Reinforcement from the sunk cost

Sunk cost is the time, money and all efforts that a user spend in game or any other product. Often the users hesitate to leave back a game after investing a hell lot of time it and after receiving rewards from it. The efforts that the user puts increases the desire to continue the game. 

3. Habitual use reinforcement

Often games give you a reason to come back to it as soon as the users leave for a break by giving additional points or other rewards. There is always a positive action in favour of user from the game that keeps them going even after the break and the users want for more. This eventually reinforces the habitual use

4. Opportunity Cost

 Given three options to the user, the user chooses one and loses two other opportunities. The makers of the product should reduce the perceived cost of time, attention and money. Intermediate currency like buying out gems or gold coins in games can reduce the perceived cost of money. Perceived cost of time can be reduced by understanding the incentives and usage pattern of the users and targeting specific time packets. Perceived cost of attention can be reduced by the giving variable rewards to the users

5. Hedonic Adaptation

The habitual adaptation is the process of adaptation when the user shares the greatest engagement with a product and over the time, they stop using it as they get bored. The product again relaunches with new innovative features and sets the user back on track. This adaptation of the user to the arousal of excitement and engagement and eventually stopping it to start afresh after an initiative from the product is called hedonic adaptation. The makers can use this adaptation by updating the product frequently, alter the user experience and make the rewards unpredictable.

We can build behavioural designs

First, define the behaviour you want to change. Then, diagnose what is preventing the behaviour from happening. Next, look to the principles described in the report and in future lessons to design ways to change the behaviour. Finally, test the outcomes of your experiment and adjust using different techniques and psychological principles.

1. Anchoring with Charm prices

Fixing prices at 99 ending values. If a product’s price is set to 199, then the anchor value of that product is 1 rather than 2. Therefore, users perceive this amount to be anyhow lesser than the product with an anchor value of 2. $1.99 is definitely better than $2. This way charm prices increases the likelihood of conversions. A user who hesitates to pay $2 for a product don’t hesitate to pay $1.99.

2. Exclusivity sells

Users prefer exclusive products to be sold at higher prices as it marks a certain position in the society. Certain brand does this to attain an image of wealth and esteem symbol in the market and the society.

3. Visual Tactics

Prices are written in small fonts to show huge differences when they are written to larger fonts. Users perceive prices written in larger fonts as discounts. Larger physical prize tags convey larger discounts The cost of a products perceived by the brain can be explained by the font size or the physical size in which the prices are listed. Large prices also don’t have commas as the user’s brain perceive and read it differently. By associating smaller numbers with larger prices, companies make their prices appear cheaper than they really are.

Behaviour can be designed as good or bad

Every user is manipulated for good or bad. Both Dark patterns approach and healthy habit-forming approach lead to conversions but when the users feel cheated or tricked, they look at the designs and only think how beneficial have they been over the time. If they feel they are hooked onto something that is not worthy, they will no longer stick to the products. In the persuasion continuum, all we have to think as designers is where are we standing in the persuasion line that stands from facilitation to coercion. We have stay balanced between persuasion and manipulation by drawing ethics in our hearts.