Why do consumers love rewards?

Why do consumers love rewards?

Consumers tend to love getting rewarded for completing a given task, why is that? We dug a little into it and here’s the answer. And possibly a few good tips?

To find out why consumers love rewards, we need to study some behavioural marketing. This has a lot to do with the fact that a lot of us are confused some and appear clear as day to others, the reason why we find ourselves incessantly checking our phones or Facebook page, isn’t out of mindlessness – but it is based on the pleasure principle.

The Science Behind Pleasure

The pleasure reward circuit in the brain is an area that can triggered by stimuli, like foods, sales and of course, digital devices. All of which provide us with an impetus for many of our behaviours. This pleasure circuit, called the nucleus accumbens, activates not when the reward is received, but in anticipation of the reward. The pleasure seeking behaviour is in reality the desire to alleviate the craving for this stimuli. This makes our brain form a causal relationship between the external stimuli, and an internal ”trigger” that is associated with a pleasurable reward – this knowledge has now become invaluable to the modern day marketer. (Source: BoingBoing)

It has also been proved that the pleasure circuit in the brain responded most powerfully, to what is called ”intermittent reinforcement” – in other words, the brain responds more to the random distribution of rewards, and gets more pleasure. Here companies can then apply this theory to their marketing schemes – they need to attach their services to the user’s lifestyles, making a brand into a way of life, rather than just a business. But how exactly is this possible? And is it even doable?

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

With the help of a professor of psychology and marketing, Robert B. Cialdini, shows us through his work; ”Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by postulating that all human behaviour was ultimately inspired by a logic of reciprocity. Here the idea of reciprocity is the belief that people feel indebted to those who give them gifts or do something for them – a motivational factor that could be harnessed; to make users complete a certain task or behave in a certain way. (Source: eBrand Media).


But the difficulty with this, Cialdini says, ”You have to go first. Give something: give information, give free samples, give a positive experience to people, and they will want to give you something in return.” This principle can be executed with little to no cost in the digital era, and will help inspire the sensation of being indebted in the user, making them more likely to engage in a particular type of behaviour, or gratitude. Here companies can choose to use micro-incentives like this to easily acquire new users, most commonly seen as buy 1, get 1 free. This can also be applied to a wide range of items such as free samples, coupons emailed to users daily or even digital downloads.

Then, by utilising the power of small digital rewards – micro-incentives which can include anything from a free e-gift card with a magazine subscription, or a coupon emailed in exchange for completing a survey. Brands can not only acquire new users for less, but are also acting on the principles of novelty and value. The novelty principal ensures that as long as the reward is variable, it will delight us, while the value principle reassures users that their time has been well spent, effectively strengthening the associations between the purchase and the pleasure center in the brain.

The Benefits

Using digital rewards rather than physical ones, does not only offer a range of benefits from lower costs, higher perceived value to a better ROI – but it also introduces the idea of social sharing into the mix. Cialdini states that the value of authority – or in this case, the authority to influence others – is paramount to the user’s decision making process. Here, millennials share activity on social media is directly linked to their buying behaviour, with up to nearly 70% of millennials being more likely to conduct a purchase based on their friends’ social media posts. Here brands have the opportunity to reach out to each buyer, and the ones they influence by sharing their purchase, as they go along in their day-to-day behaviour. (Source: Michael Amar).

The companies that desire to go beyond the short-term goals of increasing their sales, in favour of more long-term effects – like forging a long-lasting bond between the brand and the consumers. This can harness psychological principles to ensure that they create memorable, meaningful experiences for consumers. By surprising users with small, thoughtful rewards on a frequent basis – brands can not only continually delight and excite their users, but also influence them to become users for life. The process of the conversion hook (trigger, call to action, reward) can be refined to create internal triggers within the users, so they will form positive and lasting associations between themselves and the brand, a feat which is remarkable for a company to achieve.

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