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Nudge Newsletter

Phill Agnew

I spend 18 hours each week turning marketing psychology into readable newsletters.

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How one joke harmed Merlot sales for years | Nudge Newsletter 🧠

The joke that killed Merlot. In 2004 the movie Sideways featured the character Miles, a wine connoisseur on a tour of wineries in California. Miles, a heartbroken, miserable divorcé, who, in an effort to cheer himself up, goes on a wine tour with his friend Jack. The film did wonders for the sales of Santa Barbara wines. Except for one variety: merlot. Here’s why: Miles opted for pinot noir instead, for which sales have since skyrocketed. When Sideways premiered in 2004, merlot made up close...

4 days ago • 1 min read

Losses motivate more than gains. Imagine I gave you $4,000 to motivate your sales rep. You'd probably set them a target like this: Hit 120% of quota and I'll give you $4,000 But... There's a better way to motivate. Loss aversion reveals that losses are more salient than equivalent gains. And when it comes to bonuses, the thought of losing a bonus is more motivating than gaining one. Here's the study behind this insight 👇 The right way to motivate the sales rep is to say: We've added an extra...

11 days ago • 1 min read

Sorry—no concert, just golden advice. Researchers at the University of Notre Dame wanted to increase voter engagement at the organisation Rock the Vote. To do so they tested two emails: Took the Writer's Perspective = reflected the writer's goal of recruiting new volunteers. Took the Reader's Perspective = focused instead on something that the recipient might value. The results speak for themselves. Email list subscribers who received the Reader's Perspective version were four times as likely...

18 days ago • 1 min read

Money can't buy love. Expensive weddings = higher divorce rate. Why? Well perhaps it's due to the hedonic treadmill. The hedonic treadmill refers to the constant pursuit of happiness and the belief that material possessions will bring that happiness. However, as we acquire more material possessions or experiences, the happiness they bring becomes fleeting and short-lived. The same principle can be applied to expensive weddings. Many couples believe that an extravagant wedding will bring them...

25 days ago • 1 min read

Use descriptions that can be visualised. In 2022 researchers ran a study on product descriptions. Half saw descriptions given in weight. Half saw descriptions given in quantity. Here's what happened. Oreo are one of the few brands that actually use this. Rather than proudly displaying the package weight, they showcase the quantity of cookies. And doing so, should boost their sales. So, use descriptions that can be visualised: ❌ 100 GB = ✅ 50 feature length films ❌ 568 mls = ✅ 1 pint ❌ 135 MPH...

about 1 month ago • 1 min read

"Could you be a helper?" In 2014 researchers at Bing school ran an experiment with the kids. Half were asked "can you help tidy?". The other half were asked "can you be a helper?". When children were asked to "be a helper" rather than just to "help," assistance increased by nearly a third. This was tested in situations where kids were particularly uninterested, like tidying up while engaged in another activity. Why does this happen? Well this request forces us to think about our identity,...

about 1 month ago • 1 min read

Praising a competitor won't harm your brand. After viewing a tweet where Kit Kat praised Twix: "Competitor or not, congrats on your 54 years in business! Even we can admit—Twix are delicious.” Participants were more inclined to purchase Kit Kat, while their preference for Twix remained steady. Commending competitors can elevate your brand's likability. Which is why I'll shout out my three favourite newsletters: Stand the F*ck Out Ariyh Why We Buy Subscribe to them all—they're wonderful....

about 2 months ago • 1 min read

Don't say "it's free"—say it's $0. Two Korean researchers ran 10 different experiments in retail stores, online and in the lab. They tested the effectiveness of a buy on get one free promotion. However, they tweaked the language: Half saw "buy one get one free" Others saw "buy one get one for $0" Why does this happen? Well $0 feels more concrete and tangible than "free" plus it feels more trustworthy. So, add this to your marketing: ❌ Chips included for free | ✅ Chips included for $0 ❌ Seat...

about 2 months ago • 1 min read

Present tense boosts persuasion. In January 2023, three researchers analysed 500,000 product reviews. Specifically, they analysed if the review was written in present tense: The book is heart-warming Or past tense: The book was heart-warming Turns out, present tense boosts persuasion. Using present tense in messages makes them 26.4% more helpful. And it increases likelihood of product interest by 12.3%. Why? Because this subtle reframing boosts the trustworthiness of the review. We...

2 months ago • 1 min read

Duration drives more urgency than dates. If this subject line had said, read this before Sunday, fewer people would have opened it. At least that's according to a 2023 study which found that duration (rather than calendar dates) drives more urgency. Durations (e.g., "3 days") prompt action more effectively than specific dates (e.g., "July 1st"). In Jeong, Hwang & Suk's 2023 study, college students were more likely to start a writing assignment when they were told a duration rather than a...

2 months ago • 1 min read
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