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Consumer Psychology: Five Tips for Creating Positive (and Reasonable) Expectations

by Charlotte Blank  |  
October 30, 2017

You've probably had a few experiences that didn't live up to your expectations. We've all suffered through dates that turned into duds, parties that were a drag, online shopping fails that were frustrating, and vacations that weren't even Snap-worthy.

Being let down is pretty much a rite of passage of the pleasure-seeking human condition.

Sometimes, it's our own unrealistically high expectations that ruin an experience before it's even begun. In fact, this scenario—let's call it the "New Year's is the worst" effect—has become so universally recognized that psychologists have conducted fascinating studies about it to better understand just how influential humans' expectations are.

As marketers, it's critical for us to learn how to build excitement for our product, service, or event without overhyping and disappointing our customers (I'm looking at you, Fyre Festival). And the best way to master walking that fine line is by getting a better understanding of how and why people's expectations alter their experiences.

The Science of Expectations

Expectations really are everything.

Time and again, studies have shown that our expectations drastically influence how we think and feel about the world around us.

For example, if our preconceived notions tell us that a street performer will be of no significance, we're destined to miss the world-famous prodigy in our midst. Or if we expect a beer to taste good, we're likely to overlook even the nastiest of "secret ingredients."

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Charlotte Blank is chief behavioral officer of Maritz, a sales and marketing services company that helps businesses achieve their full potential by inspiring and motivating employees, channel partners, and customers.

Twitter: @CharlotteBlank

LinkedIn: Charlotte Blank

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