Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How to compete with a market leader: The anti-bandwagon effect

To succeed in a crowded market and compete against giants like Apple, Android needed to differentiate themselves. In 2014, they launched an advertising campaign with the slogan “be together, not the same” to promote their operating system.

The central theme of their campaign plays on the conflicting motives that drive consumer choice; namely the need to be similar enough to others to fit in, whilst at the same time expressing enough individuality. A unique selling point of Android operating systems is that they are used by an extensive range of mobile phone models, enabling greater choice for customers. Drawing on this in their use of the phrase “not the same”, they persuade consumers by implying that choosing Android will prevent appearing too similar to others. This persuasive technique is sometimes termed the “anti-bandwagon effect” as they endorse being distinct from the crowd, rather than following it. Alongside this, “be together” allows customers to express their individuality safe in the knowledge that they will still be connected to others. Thus, playing on the importance of social inclusion. An additional bonus of this tagline is that it subtly denounces the use of other brands, such as Apple, that are associated with a limited choice of phones.

“Not the same” primes people to consider the importance of acknowledging their differences from others. By doing this, they hope that consumers will gravitate towards a brand of lesser popularity that is promoting individuality. Research by Jin, He, Zou, & Xu (2013) has supported the effectiveness of their strategy. By priming people to think of how they are different to others, they exhibited an increased desire for a unique product.

81 graduates generated 10 identity characteristics. Half of participants described themselves based on what they were (e.g. I am a student), and the other half on what they were not (e.g. I am not a leader). Then, participants were told that they would be entered into a prize draw, so must select their potential prize. The options were a red or orange umbrella. To make their choice, they were told that the most popular umbrella was chosen 83.7% of the time, compared to only 16.3% for the unpopular colour. To prevent colour preferences affecting results, some of the participants were told that the orange umbrella was the popular choice, whilst others were told that the red one was.

The individuals in the “I am not…” group showed a greater preference for the unpopular product, with 71.4% choosing this item. Conversely, in the “I am…” group only 35.9% chose the unpopular item. These results are shown in figure 1.

By stating characteristics that they didn’t possess, participants were reminded of how they differed from others. As a result, these participants showed an increased desire to appear different from others in their product choice, with a larger proportion going against the majority. Android prime individuals to think of themselves as being “not the same”. Consequently, they are less likely to desire a popular brand, instead preferring to choose one that will cater for their uniqueness. This need is better served by Android based on their extensive range of mobile phones, as opposed to the popular choice Apple, with only a limited choice.

Along with the aforementioned study, market research has supported the concept behind this advertising campaign. Consumers tend to prefer to associate themselves with a popular brand that offers enough products to enable customisation (Chan, Berger, & Van Boven, 2012). Given the clever balancing of the core consumer motives of similarity and individuality in their tagline, the success of Android’s campaign is not surprising. In fact, Android became the first operating system to reach more than 1 billion new users following the campaign (Manjoo, 2015). This was four times greater than Apple and three times greater than Windows. Paradoxically, this shows that emphasising the uniqueness of a product can increase brand popularity and lead to a majority share in the market.  

Chan, C., Berger, J., & Van Boven, L. (2012). Identifiable but not identical: Combining social identity and uniqueness motives in choice. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(3), 561-573.
Jin, L., He, Y., Zou, D., & Xu, Q. (2013). How affirmational versus negational identification frames influence uniquenessseeking behavior. Psychology & Marketing, 30(10), 891-902.
Manjoo, Farhad (May 27, 2015). "A Murky Road Ahead for Android, Despite Market Dominance". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 27, 2015.

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