Positive Reinforcement to Dissuade Bad Behaviors

A persistent problem of working for a client whose business is hijacked by pirates is how to convince people to pay more for the authentic product. There is no quick and easy answer, but the one we lean on the most is to admonish the possibility of using a counterfeit. So we end up with big campaigns slamming competitors or focusing on the dangers of not going for the real thing – which is a terribly predictable strategy and doesn’t give the creatives enough meat to work with.

I’m thinking of taking the opposite route and focusing the campaign on the positive reinforcement of the desired behavior. Of course there are marketing programs such as loyalty programs, frequent buyer discounts and promotions, but those fall outside of the scope of the ad agency.

Ideally, there would be little brand experiences that reward the consumer here and there for their decision. Maybe there can be subtle reminders of how much more they’re getting or the higher quality of the experience. Some brands have turned the authentication piece into status symbols like labels you get for designer jeans. Or maybe something like the Mini Cooper decoder that worked for a billboard.

The idea is that there are some loyal customers regardless and it might be worth it to pay more attention to them first and then use the ad campaign as a broader cover for the concept. Your best customers will be your biggest advocates. And since piracy is so rampant we’re tempted to win back our share through big gains, but it’s a harder culture/habit to break than we think.


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