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The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon: How Frequency Bias Affect Customer Behaviour

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Eda is a freelance writer, an entrepreneur and the founder of le fric flâneur. She has an unexplainable obsession with bread and succulents.

Have you ever learned a new word, let say for an example: succinct. It is a word that describes something that is briefly and clearly expressed. The next thing you know, the word ‘succinct’ seems to appear everywhere. Do not fret, lad! You are not losing the plot, nor is it a coincidence. Chances are we have experienced this at some point in our life. This bizarre occurrence is called The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon or frequency (recency) illusion.

There are many things happening around us, therefore our brain’s attention tends to filter it’s focus to something that is more familiar. It then gets excited about the new information it’s consuming. Without you realising it, you will start to be more aware of the existence of that specific thing. I’m going to tell you a story about my experience. Around the end of 2018, I saw a huge billboard advertising of the Vivobook S15 S530 placed at the pedestrian bridge while I was stuck in traffic. They displayed it’s gorgeous teal colour and eye-catching design of Vivobook S15. After that day, I keep seeing the same laptop advertisement at malls, at the side of blogs, and even in my YouTube advertisement. Yes, it was attractive, but I had no good reasons to get a new laptop. After a few months, I surveyed around for a good laptop on a few PC websites as my laptop was dying on me. The dazzling Vivobook S15 S530 in teal was there shining, shimmering, and calling for my name on every different website I was on. I decided to buy it and it was one of the best purchases I have ever made as I’m using it to write this article now.

What does that mean to The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon?

You see, this unique circumstance does play a part in the marketing world. Have you ever realised that some advertisements constantly appear in your social media or at the side of the website that you are browsing? This is the company’s strategy for brand awareness. They want you to remember their products and keep thinking about their products. The more you see it, the more you want it. This lies under the assumption that these particular products are desirable by many and are more popular. Consequently, they build more trust in you and you start buying their products. Clever isn’t it?

I am sure I am not the only one experiencing this. Millions of people are falling into this box clever strategy every day. We can not blame these traders, they are out there to make money. What can you do as a consumer to not fall into unnecessary purchases?

First of all, lads, get your pen and papers ready.

  1. List down all the pros and cons of the particular product before buying. Think about all the possibilities and values added to your daily needs. Imagine how significantly different your life will be by buying that product.
  2. Make comparisons with other similar products too. Who in their right mind needs a RM50 journal or RM15 birthday card when you get them for half the price online for the same quality and better design?
  3. Budget breakdown. Have your budget set up to help avoid any unnecessary shopping, especially if you like to window-shop or leisure at the mall.
  4. Only buy if you need it immediately. Before making a purchase, ask yourself again. “Do I really need this?” We often make this mistake thinking that we need them because of the hype, but we end up only using them for a short while.
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In conclusion, you have probably experienced The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon many times when you learnt something new.

However, in the view of money management, this is unavoidable. Often marketers use this strategy to boost their marketing effort on building trust and magnifying their message to customers to build their business. When this happens, it will especially affect your wallet. It is not a deja vu, and we can confront them with extra caution because there is nothing wrong with learning about new products. Eventually, good knowledge of spending will save you a long way.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Eda

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