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The Quest for the Subtle Nudge

Soon after she began looking deeper into social marketing, Keller realized it wasn’t simply a matter of using traditional marketing strategies for a different purpose. There are aspects of commercial marketing that need to be adjusted in a social context. The nature of competition, for example, is completely different. With sodas, Coke competes with Pepsi. For skin cancer, the options are sunscreen or a hat, or doing nothing at all. Many times, doing nothing is the most attractive course, and how do you compete with the ease of nothing? And then there is the consideration of benefits. Sodas can claim to be immediately thirst-quenching or tasty or refreshing. Meanwhile, the benefits of saving for retirement are more inchoate and only appear at some later date. This raises the problem of “inter-temporal discounting,” the idea that people value current costs and benefits more highly than those that occur in the future. Conventional products often come with guarantees, but the social marketer can’t guarantee anything—you may make all the right choices and still get cancer.

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Date: 31 Mar 2015