Halo effect: what is it and how to apply it to a business?

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The Halo effect refers to what happens on the first impression. For example, when we meet someone, a cognitive process is put into operation in which all our experience and intuition determine whether that perception is positive or not. We tell you how to use it in marketing!

What is the Halo effect?

The Halo effect is known as the first impression or the projection of qualities onto people or things unconsciously. It is a cognitive bias, that is, a psychological effect that distorts the perception that each person has about reality.

There are different types of biases. For example, behavioral biases —which refer to the beliefs and decisions that are made—, social bias, and memory bias.

The Halo effect describes that first impression that, however positive or negative it may be, does not conform to reality. It is the predisposition of any person to project qualities onto another or onto an object.

What happens is that it has a long-term effect and this can be both a problem and a virtue. That first impression was visible for a long time, which is why it is so important for marketing.

The brain stores emotions and perceptions from previous experiences. For example, the feeling of a first vaccination. If there was pain or fear, it is likely that this will be repeated on future occasions, based on that first impression.

How does it work?

When we meet someone, for example, we probably have little information about that person.

Unconsciously, we have a learned obligation to form an image of his personality. This process is carried out very quickly and is based on intuition, which gives us the pattern of how to behave. It is a very fast observation and evaluation.

To convene and lead a work team, choose a supplier, understand your customer or simply get to know someone, this is going to be very useful!

The Halo effect applied to marketing and sales

Since the duration of the Halo effect in time is long and it cannot be disarmed so easily, counter-strategies are developed from marketing to control the importance that it can have in the relationship between the brand and the consumer.

If the first impression was positive but then the experience is negative, the weight of the Halo effect is so strong that the consumer probably registers it after a long time. The same thing happens in reverse.

This makes the Halo effect effective if it can be directed in your favor.

When working on the communication and marketing of a product, what is sought is to reach the consumer and mark it in some way: that the experience be unique, that it transcends the relationship and that it remains in the mind of the consumer.

Whether in face-to-face or indirect sales, the brand aims to generate a positive feeling in the customer and that is why it will show its virtues.

In this sense, it is considered a Halo effect because it generates a kind of halo or halo linked to the characteristic that one wishes to highlight.

In B2B marketing (that is, business to business, which means “from business to business”) the aura of the potential client is worked on. The goal is to create that effective first impression, which is the one that will last a long time and can be used.

Many times, this effect is applied to a product and its irradiation is such that it can be extrapolated to the rest of the brand.

Types of biases used in marketing to apply the Halo effect

Illusion of truth bias

It appears when information that has been heard many times is considered true even if it is not justified.

The person who receives that information over time tends to believe that it is true and makes decisions based on it. It is a simple message, easy to understand, that is repeated many times: the slogan.

An idea that is repeated in different advertisements and over time becomes true.

An example could be that of the Coca-Cola brand and happiness. “Uncover happiness” is used in different strategies to constantly appear in the consumer’s mind.

Authority bias

Just as a doctor is the authorized voice to speak of diseases or a lawyer, of laws, the authority is given to the specialist in the subject.

If a professional provides the information, it is likely to condition the consumer.

This is the case of toothpaste or food advertisements, in which a dentist or nutritionist appears explaining the benefits of the product. It is also very common in the sales of specialized courses.

It is a way to convince potential customers but also provide them with security and reinforce the brand in regular consumers.

Ingroup bias

It comes from social psychology and is the one that explains favoritism or the predisposition to treat members of a group preferentially over those who are outside of it.

Wanting and needing to belong to a group is a human tendency, part of our social nature.

On the other hand, self-esteem and social identity are formed thanks to the relationship between individuals, to group interaction. It is about generating a tribe, a camaraderie from a product.

This is the case of the book clubs organized by a publisher or the marketing actions that can be seen in the launch of books such as Harry Potter or the “Star Wars” movies.

It is what is known today as “generating a community” in the area of ​​social networks. In these cases, the feeling of belonging works and drives consumption and the diffusion of the brand by consumers.

Anchor bias

It is one of the most used in the marketing area because it directly influences decision making. The “anchor” is considered the first information that is provided about a product or person.

For example, the first thing that a person shows or the first data that is displayed about a product. It is very common to use the price as an anchor in the sale of products.

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In today’s society, advertisements and stimuli are plentiful. For this reason, to generate results, it is necessary to work on anchoring, either by price or by valuable information about your product: the distinctive feature that will make it stand out in the market.

This should not be confused with another bias, which is that of the present. In that case, people feel that they are favored by obtaining an immediate benefit.

If the consumer obtains a reward, he will quickly choose that product over an equal one from the competition. For example, getting a bigger one or paying for an expensive product in installments.

There are other types of biases that can be used, but these are the most common and easy to apply. The important thing is to understand how the Halo effect works on cognitive biases so that your startup stands out.

Generating the halo or the Halo effect should be part of your strategy to be able to attract and retain customers, avoid miscommunication and form effective work teams and connection with customers.