What is loss aversion?

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Loss aversion is situated in the field of neuromarketing, the science that  carries out studies of how our brain works when making a purchase decision. But to answer the question “What is loss aversion?” We should, first of all look at how we function as human beings.


Loss Aversion responds to the psychological fact that people are afraid of losing something. You can certainly imagine a situation where you bought something or went on an offer from the topic you were afraid of losing something. Even more, you were as it were afraid you were going to miss something if you did not do it. Research shows that we humans have more fear of losing something than the ambition to win something. You can also probably imagine that marketers here are only too happy to play in. They use it feel like you have to get rid of something as it were, as a trigger to put you to buy. So winning 100 euros in a casino feels good, but losing 100 euros feels twice as bad as winning it.

losses vs gains e14353513724351 - What is loss aversion?

If you don’t fully understand the above, the following fictional example may clarify this certainly.

Imagina it’s time to buy a new car. During your visit to the Motor Show you will find a car that you are completely appealing. Moreover, there are also the interesting salon promotions. Thanks to this amazing promotion, you can save as many as 3,000 euros on the purchase of the car. But these offfers are only valid until 14 days after the Motor Show. The fact that the promotion is only valid until 14 days after the Motor Show, this could be the trigger that makes you buy. After all you are worried that you will miss out on the promotion and savings associated with it.

Another great example you sometimes see in pop-ups on a website. Pop-ups are often used to sign up for a newsletter. You get a discount if you sign up, but you can also close the popup. You can use a call-to-action that says: “No thank you, I prefer to pay full price” to persuade them to sign up.

Dutch people are real bargain hunters, so this principle should work well or them. However, you have to go a / b testing to find out if it works properly on your website and target group. Be smart and use this information when you’re creating personasI expect it, and if you have foreign sites can assess it properly by looking at the uncertainty avoidance of Peter Hofstede. He has looked at different cultures and how they deal with uncertainty avoidance. My hypothesis is that the higher a culture or country scores in terms of the avoidance of uncertainty, the better loss aversion works.

A nice video that you can see to know how the brain works can be found below.

Want to know more about the affect? The following books are a good start:

Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
Influence – Robert Cialdini
Cultures and organizations software of the mind – Peter Hofstede

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