It’s a natural tendency for people to copy one another, sometimes even without realizing it. We all want to be apart of tribes and social communities. So when we notice our social circle does one thing, we tend to do the same. This phenomenon has a term- the bandwagon effect.
Where does the term come from?
The term comes from the 19th century when a man named Dan Rice led a successful campaign for then-presidential candidate Zachary Taylor. During the campaign, Rice urged people at campaign events to “jump on the bandwagon” to show their support for Zachary Taylor. The campaign turned to be very successful and Taylor became the 12th president of the United States. The success of this campaign led to future politicians trying to copy Rice’s attempts and the term “bandwagon effect” was born.
Why Do People Experience the Bandwagon Effect?
The main reason why people experience the bandwagon effect is that it serves as a heuristic, which is a mental shortcut that people instinctively use in order to make a decision quickly.
There are signs that can trigger a thought in people,
“If other people like this, then I should too”.
This thought is based on the intuitive notion that other people’s judgment is worth depending on. There’s an assumption out there that it can be beneficial to think the same way that others do. Many people don’t feel comfortable standing out of the crowd and/or do not want to go against what a large crowd may believe in.
People have a desire to support a winning individual or group and have a desire to support what they believe is the majority opinion. This concept is more common in political situations, but the idea can be applied to other situations as well.
This idea is all about desire. A desire to conform, and desire to support the winner in a given competition. People rely on others when making decisions especially tough decisions. People feel a need to see what others have done in similar situations to theirs and if enough people have chosen the same outcome, person, brand, product, etc. then they will follow suit.
How the Bandwagon Effect Works
In other words, this bandwagon effect refers to people’s tendency to do something simply because many other people are doing it. This effect has been seen in politics, public policy, and marketing.
There are studies that show that the bandwagon effect has influenced people’s willingness to buy a certain product and at times even pay more for it. In a business mindset, when introducing a new product, brand, line, etc., a great way to make that offer MORE valuable, is to show that many other people, especially celebrities, are using that same product.
People want to be using the same products that their favorite celebrity might be using. The thought process goes, “If they are using it, it must be cool”. The thought also extends to family and friends. If one or more of your friends/family use or have a specific product, you may find yourself wanting it as well.
If you are a business owner, it is important to understand this effect because it could be a key advantage in gaining consumer purchases.
How To Use The Bandwagon Effect
There are many steps you can take to take advantage of this effect, but before you do this there are questions that you will need to ask yourself:
- What am I trying to promote?
- Who am I trying to promote it to?
- What social cues will my target audience respond to favorably?
- How can I create these cues?
- How can I present these cues in the best way possible?
Answering these questions will help you to find an approach to taking advantage of the bandwagon effect. Once you have answered the questions you can look at previous similar situations with other businesses or people and see what they may, or may not, have accomplished. Below are some examples of steps you can follow, but again, do some research and see what others have accomplished.
Feature Customer Testimonials
We’ve established, that this term is all about people observing what other people think about ideas, brands, products, etc. So it goes without saying that featuring customer testimonials on your landing pages can go a long way to boost conversions.
Highlight Your Numbers
When you highlight the fact that a certain number of people use your product, you are tacitly establishing that that number of people endorse your product. This is especially true if that number is high. People will see a number like 500 or 1,000 and think, “That many people can’t be wrong!”.
Just make sure your claims are not only true but believable. Keep in mind clear content trumps persuasion! Be clear in your message and what you want from someone, as opposed to only using numbers to get someone’s attention and hope they follow.
Incorporate Customer Reviews
It’s no secret that many people will Google reviews on anything from products to services to businesses and people, to read what other people have to say. Showing customer reviews on key pages can have a huge impact on conversions. There are statistics that prove just how impactful customer reviews can have:
- Displaying reviews can boost conversions by up to 270 percent.
- Displaying at least five reviews increases the likelihood of customers purchasing by up to four times.
- For high ticket products, displaying reviews can boost conversions by up to 380 percent.
Leverage Association With a Celebrity or Industry Thought Leader
It can be hard to have a celebrity endorse your business or brand, but once achieved it can be a huge benefit to your business. Even if you can’t get a celebrity to directly endorse your product, you can still leverage an association with a celebrity to draw the crowd to you.
You can mention that a celebrity uses your products or highlight any other form of a connection that you may have with a well-known figure.
Variations in the Bandwagon Effect
One very important thought to keep in mind is that different people will react differently in situations and experience the effect differently, There are people who have strong opinions and feelings about specific products/brands and/or people, and just because one million consumers are raving about something doesn’t mean they will suddenly change their mind.
Only people who are unsure in their opinions on specific situations can be swayed and influenced by others. That signifies that the bandwagon effect is limited to only a small percentage of people. Do not become discouraged though because a small percentage of people may be all it takes to influence a larger impact on a situation. Even if the impact is small, it may become an advantage in the long run.
Disadvantages of the Bandwagon Effect
It is vital to think in a business mindset when incorporating this effect in your business plans. When there is a high demand for any popular product or service in the market, there will always be the appearance of competitors offering a similar product, often at a cheaper price.
If you achieve the desired results of having a large number of people seeking your product than you need to be aware of turnaround times for restocking retailers in order to satisfy those high consumer demands. If your company cannot keep up with production than those competitors will swoop in. These competitors than have the potential of stealing a large portion of your market share. Not only that, those competitors may take advantage of the situation and begin to offer “New and Improved” versions of your product or service and use their own bandwagon marketing.
In addition, depending on the number of competitors, they may overwhelm the market with similar products which may lead to prices going down. In order to avoid these situations to happen, preparedness is essential. Be responsive to purchase demands and always keep an eye on potential competitors.
The bandwagon effect causes people to think or act in a certain way because they believe that others are doing the same. Understanding this effect can help when introducing new products into the market. As a business owner, it’s important to conduct research to avoid any possible consequences.
Know how this effect works and affects consumers and understand how to use it to your advantage and keep in mind that not all people are the same, so some steps may cause different results.