Brand & Confirmation Bias

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In a UK reliability survey, why did Virgin beat T-Mobile, when they were using the T Mobile infrastructure? 

In this Vlog, Grant explains all about ‘brand and confirmation bias’.

In the early noughties, Virgin came out on top in a survey on core reliability and quality. The only thing is, they were using T-Mobile’s infrastructure. So there’s no way that their signal quality or core reliability could be better than T-Mobile.

So why was it that they managed to come out on top? Well, it was brand. People’s perception is that Virgin was a better brand than T-Mobile and, therefore, their confirmation bias said that they got a better service from Virgin than they did from T-Mobile.

Similarly, if you are on your computer, you get a [blip on your] screen and it’s Microsoft, people immediately start [?!} swearing and blinding and getting [?!] upset. They go, oh, this Microsoft’ [stuff] never worked. If that happens on a MacBook, people go, oh, that’s strange, maybe I press the wrong button. Why? Because Apple have a reputation that everything always works and, therefore, if it goes wrong, confirmation bias says, oh, I must have been a quirk or something that I did.

Of course, no one’s suggesting you ever lied to a customer. But the point is this, if you invest in brand and a sales message that’s authentic and believable confirmation bias will do the rest.

Lexus used to say they were the quietest ride in the world and of course they weren’t noisy, but confirmation bias meant that when people got in the car, they’d say, oh! this really is quiet. Similarly, Premier Inn always say, ‘a good night’s sleep or your money back.’ and to be fair, they spent millions and millions on beds. But confirmation bias will tell you that when people get into a bed at a Premier Inn, they automatically say, oh, this is really comfortable.

So what are you particularly good at? Where do your particular strengths lie? By investing in that and getting that message across on a brand level, confirmation bias will mean that actually, you’ll be perceived better than your competitors in that area.

And that’s a nice place to be.

There may be small changes to the spoken word in this transcript in order to facilitate the readability of the written English

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    1. Author

      Thank you Chris. I am really pleased that the stories are useful.

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