How the Halo Effect Benefits Ecommerce Brands

Once upon a time, back in the olden days of 20-aught-nine, people absolutely lost their minds with delight when Apple added copy and paste to the iPhone. Today, it has become an annual event: Apple releases “magic,” “new” features that Samsung has already had on its phones without any fanfare for years. Or maybe you purchased a Google Wi-Fi router recently despite the fact they’ve only been on the market since 2016. Linksys (remember Linksys??) on the other hand, has been selling home Wi-Fi routers since the ’90s — still do. Some might refer to this behavior as being a “fanboy.” There’s actually a more scientific explanation.

The Halo Effect is a form of cognitive bias where positive impressions lead you to make positive assumptions. These impressions are based on limited information or experiences, but they can cause us to make assumptions about unrelated qualities such as personality, skills, and capabilities.

The bias was first defined by 20th century psychologist Edward Thorndike. He discovered that when military officers rated soldiers for various qualities, a soldier’s physical appearance consistently impacted how officers rated their leadership capabilities, intelligence, and other characteristics. The Halo Effect has had massive implications for a broad range of human experiences and interactions — including ecommerce.

You might be wondering: what does this bias have to do with my brand? There are three main ways ecommerce brands and products benefit from the Halo Effect.

1. The Halo Effect of your retail partners

In online shopping, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to tell the difference between quality products, inferior products, and which are no-name brands — particularly in product categories in which they have no experience. This is one of the reasons why it’s so valuable for ecommerce brands to use retailers as channel marketing partners: consumers trust them to carry quality products.

Your retail partners have also made massive investments in infrastructure to provide a top-notch customer experience. Their customers know that even if a purchase doesn’t meet their expectations, the return process is easy and customer service will take care of them.

This all means that even if someone has never seen or heard of your brand before, consumers will trust that you’re available from the store they trust because you’re a brand they can trust. Additionally, they assume that because they’ve had good experiences with other purchases from this retailer, they can expect a good experience when they buy your product.

Your brand benefits from the Halo Effect of your retail partners because you’re trustworthy by association. Consumers assume your brand makes good quality products, same as all the other brands their favorite retailers carry.

Tip: To get the most mileage out of your retailers’ Halo Effect, lean into your association with trusted distributors. Highlight ratings from their websites on your own, and create clear paths to purchase from reputable retailers within your product pages.

2. The Halo Effect of your catalog

As any brand knows, producing excellent products in one category doesn’t automatically mean you can produce excellent products in another. Plenty of successful brands have failed products. Failure is a necessary ingredient for innovation. Still, when consumers have positive experiences with one item in your catalog, it leads them to assume your other products will be good, too.

Think about the brands of tools, electronics, apparel, and cleaning products you turn to again and again. Even if you’ve never used Dewalt’s miter saw, you assume it’s high-quality because you’ve had good experiences with their reciprocating saw, cordless drill, and other tools. Or maybe you trust Bose to make anything audio-related because you love their noise-cancelling headphones.

To some degree, success in one product category will always trigger the Halo Effect as customers explore other product categories you serve. When people see your other offerings, they recall their past experiences and naturally assume they’ll have a similar one with this new item or service.

Tip: To maximize the benefit of your catalog’s Halo Effect, look for relevant ways to cross promote related products and share personalized recommendations with past customers.

3. The Halo Effect of your customers

Word-of-mouth remains one of the most valuable ways brands reach new people. As your customers become brand advocates, you benefit from their reputation, earned trust, and rapport with others. Each customer’s friends, family, colleagues, and followers have had past experiences and interactions with the person which may lead them to trust your brand and actively seek you out.

The more enthusiastic and credible your customers are and the more experience they have with your product category, the more beneficial that Halo Effect becomes for your brand.

Tip: To get the most from your customers’ Halo Effect, develop a strong customer loyalty program and consider incentivizing referrals. Your customers may be more willing to advocate for your brand in exchange for discount codes, free accessories, and other exclusives.

Take advantage of the Halo Effect

The Halo Effect is a naturally occurring psychological process. When you understand how and why it works, you can use this psychological insight to fuel your ecommerce strategy.

Discover how top brands manage their ecommerce across the entire digital shelf by taking a tour of PriceSpider’s Brand Commerce Platform. Talk to an Expert today.

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