I’d firstly like to say a massive thankyou to everyone who has read the column and sent a message or asked a question. Please feel free to keep sending those emails.

This month I got a few emails from established business owners in the town. They talked to me about a slump in their business and we discussed various ways that they could improve, such as marketing, getting a presence online and pivoting their business model. The conclusion we came to after I reviewed their marketing material, was that there might be an issue with how they are framing the messages that they communicate to their customer base.

This is a common problem many businesses face. They are either not communicating the message (sales pitch) correctly or they are communicating it to the wrong group of people.

In this case the businesses are communicating with the right people but the message is just slightly off. This comes down to something called the Framing Effect. In behavioural economics there is a concern with cognitive bias, which means people react to a particular choice in different ways, depending on the method of presentation.

The reactions typically come down to either a loss or a gain. People tend to think they are avoiding risk when there is a positive frame but see risks when there is a negative frame.

For example, think about supermarkets. Marketing a food product there are two main ways they could frame the information about the fat contents. 1) With a gain and positivity – “Now 80% fat free” or; 2) loss and negativity – “contains 20% fat”


To me the “80% fat free” message defiantly stands out and is much more appealing than the other.

Nothing has changed, except the way that it’s framed and communicated. However, this subtle change could be the difference between a sale or not.

Next time you’re marketing your product or services, make sure you take this into account as it can lead to a bias, which causes errors in judgment, potentially leading to unintended and poor customer outcomes.

*First Published in The Thetford and Brandon Times