Use the Psychology of the Second Interest

By Raphel, Murray | Art Business News, October 2003 | Go to article overview

Use the Psychology of the Second Interest


Raphel, Murray, Art Business News


The makers of the Cracker Jack popcorn snack know that one of the reasons people buy their product is because many customers want the prize, not the product.

Want to have Domino's deliver a pizza tonight? Would you be more inclined if you saw their offer for free donuts with every order? Probably.

The average supermarket has nearly 30,000 different items to buy. How do you choose from competitive merchandise? If you buy Betty Crocker products, collect the box tops and send them to General Mills, you receive 10 cents for each toward computers, sports equipment and more for your child's school.

Visit your nearest department store's cosmetics department and you'll see offers for free handbags, clothing and make-up supplies as rewards for purchasing products. Customers believe these extras make sense, and they give them a reason to buy.

This technique of selling is often called the "psychology of the second interest" (PSI). You get customers to buy the product you want them to buy by offering another product they want to buy. The second interest sells the first. It's a strategy worth considering for your next promotion.

For example, you could give everyone who comes to your sale a chance to win a trip to a nice location. Work out a swap deal with your local travel agency in exchange for promoting it in your advertising. (Check with your attorney on the rules and requirements for sweepstakes.)

Another idea is to offer a savings if your customer shops ahead of a busy buying season. This worked for Rollie LaMarche of Picture This! In Sherwood Park, Canada. He wanted his customers to Christmas shop early, so he sent them a mailer with the following offer on custom framing:

"Save 15 percent if you shop by Saturday, Nov. 20.

"Save 10 percent if you shop by Saturday, Nov. 27.

"Save 5 percent if you shop by Saturday, Dec. 4."

The second interest was the savings, not the framing. Those who thought they'd wait closer to the holidays to frame a special print or heirloom for a friend or relative saw they would save money by shopping early. And they did.

Buy This, Get This Free

And then there's the "buy this, get this free" technique. For example, a recent catalog from Quill, a mail-order stationary company, not only offers many items on sale, but customers ordering $125 or more in merchandise receive a waterproof picnic blanket flee.

When I owned a retail children's clothing store, we offered a free 12-inch cuddly teddy bear to customers who bought $100 worth of merchandise during the holidays. We had the teddy bears on display throughout our shops. Children would come in, see the bear and later tell Santa that they wanted one.

We originally bought 1,000 of the bears but had to quickly order 2,000 more as parents snatched them up. Our holiday sales reached a record high that year. Was it just because of the bear? No, but it was one reason. It was PSI.

A further extension is to give customers something for free even if they do not buy anything. Consider the Oreck vacuum cleaner. Oreck asks customers to try the product, and gives them a free iron for doing so. After 30 days, customers who don't like the vacuum cleaner can return it and keep the iron. It may sound like Oreck gives away a lot of irons, but most customers won't bother to return the vacuum cleaners, so the company comes out ahead.

Advertise the Winners

How many times have you seen car giveaways or contests promoting a free trip to an exotic location and wondered who the winners were? …

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