Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Marginal Pain Equation and Credit Cards

Again, superb find from the Social Customer Manifesto. Research is showing that customers weight up how much they want/desire/will derive pleasure from a purchase right now, and the pain it will cause them right now when it comes to handing over the money.
Loewenstein hopes to follow up his research regarding the "pain of paying" by exploring a growing and looming problem in the United States–why so many people run up so much credit card debt. Much like he did in the study with Knutson and Prelec, he wants to see what goes on in the brain when someone pulls out plastic instead of money when making purchases. His hypothesis is that credit cards numb the brain's pain center (i.e., reduce activity in the insular cortex) because no currency is exchanged and costs are postponed, thus weakening the body's built-in defence mechanism against unnecessary purchases. He believes that MRI testing could provide definitive answers."
It certainly is an interesting perspective on the traditional models of trying to understand the decision making process. Given that other books are saying that emotional connection plays a much larger part in any buying/voting decision than rational evaluations, it certainly plays into the idea that offering customers all the emotional support you can to overcome this "pain point" is important. Perhaps studies will show that talking to a customer service representative provides this, even through click-to-talk solutions.

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