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Pratfall effect is the social psychological tendency of humans to find greatly competent people making small mistakes and blunders more likable over the competent people who are just perfect. Strange, isn’t it? Think through this! You happen to interview two receptionists who possess similar qualifications, competencies and you are really struggling to make a choice. At the end of the last interview, the second candidate drops a file as she sets off. Clumsy, isn’t it? Well, who do you choose? If you are like most of us, you will select the girl who dropped the file. This phenomenon is further supported by the research findings of the psychologist; Joanne Silvester. According to the findings, it was concluded that more attractive candidates were the ones who openly admitted their bygone mistakes over the other spotless candidates.
Not only with humans as per the research findings, this cognitive bias was proven to act just similarly with the products too. People find the products with slight imperfections to be more appealing than the perfect ones. That is why the pratfall effect plays a somewhat important role in digital marketing. Therefore, it plays a role influencing consumer behavior towards Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
Indeed, human nature is to make mistakes. When a brand acts similarly and most importantly admits their weakness openly, it makes the brand more human alike. As a result, such brands are most likely to stay close to our hearts and be more appealing.
Let's think through a real world scenario. BudgetAir (a Netherlands based Airline Company) went public about their prices reflecting the reasons behind the low prices; compromised services such as reservations inability and acceptance of only small luggage. Well, if they didn't go open about their cost cutting mechanism, there is a high possibility that the people may judge that cost cutting and safety expenses may go hand in hand, which could be the ultimate damage for the brand reputation.
This indeed is a great way to appear authentically in front of your target audience. If a brand admits their slight imperfections, then all the other claims of the brand will be accepted by the target audience assuming that they have nothing to hide. Well, this is what 'Guinness (an Irish beer)' did. There was this negative consumer feedback on the brand as it generally takes a bit too long (119.5 seconds) to pour a pint of the beverage from the tap. Guinness openly admitted their blunder by coming up with the advertising slogan "Good things come to those who wait". Further, they advised all the bartenders to use the standard timing to further the cause. So, as Guinness could make the maximum use of the Pratfall effect, they are still doing great towards the Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) with a more authentic presence.
Pratfall effect doesn't give promising results for all the brands alike. If I may repeat the idea, it's all about how competent people or things seem to be more likable with small imperfections. As to emphasize, the imperfections shouldn't be truly damaging. For example, an imperfection that hinders the performance of a product may never be supported by the pratfall effect. Secondly, the Pratfall effect is for competent brands. If yours is an emerging brand that hasn't secured the place in the market yet, Pratfall effect may not be an ideal tactic for you towards Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). It's vital to understand that as the Pratfall effect may strengthen the strong brands, it can weaken the weak brands. Therefore, choose wisely!
The greatest source to recognize your flaws is consumer feedback. As you may come across negative feedback of similar nature, never try to hide them. Instead, try to admit your flaw by coming up with a marketing strategy as 'Guinness' did. You can ensure your target audience that you are well aware of the pratfall and subsequently link it with something positive. It indeed is challenging, yet works great towards Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
Don't forget that this tactic is definitely for established and strong brands. For the fact that the Pratfall effect works differently based on the brand's competencies and strength, it is somewhat rarely implemented and is openly debatable in the context of marketing. However, there are brands out there that have reaped the extreme benefit of Pratfall effect towards Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Learn from them!
The references contain experiments and studies that prove this bias is there.
Are you curious about how to apply this bias in experimentation? We've got that information available for you!