Why Marketers Should Care Why People “Pass the Buck”

New research shows people are two to three times more likely to delegate a tough choice on behalf of someone else versus making a difficult choice on their own. According to the chief author, “People care more about avoiding blame for bad outcomes than getting credit for good outcomes.”

This research should be of significant interest to marketers because it focuses on the psychological underpinnings of buyer behavior. For B2B marketers this research should impact the manner in which offers are framed and potentially bad outcomes can be eliminated totally or measurably reduced. Think month-to-month SaaS contracts vs. long terms contracts. For B2C marketers this research seems particularly poignant in light of cart abandonment at e-commerce sites.

The research, published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, was authored by Mary Steffel, assistant professor of marketing in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University along with collaborators, with Elanor Williams from Indiana University and Jaclyn Perrmann-Graham from the University of Cincinnati.


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