The reciprocity standard – If the brand is nice to the customer, the customer is nice to the brand

24.05.2016 Daniel Kostyra

Naturally people tend to return a favor they received from someone else. This is the glue that holds social relationships together. You helped me, so I will help you. This is called reciprocity principle.

In standard trade you can find the application of this principle for instance in the form of „Advertising Ladies“, who offer product samples in super markets (wine, mini pizzas, vegetarian salami). Oftentimes this happens in the course of a market launch, to reduce insecurities in the potential customer regarding product quality. And it is not uncommon that the respondent puts a package of the tried product in his shopping cart right there. But why? Would he have done the same, if he had tried the product beforehand from a friend instead of the advertising lady? Was it really the exceptional taste that had him convinced?

As so often, many answers are correct, but according to the reciprocity principle, in this example a favor is partially returned. The client received various (delicious) product samples and had a nice conversation at the same time – all for free or rather at the cost of the brand. Even if understood as a pure advertising method, an underlying pressure arises to return the favor. And this is easiest done by buying the advertised product.

Brands can and should use this knowledge to initially accommodate the customer in many areas. Personalized offers, opportunities for a complementary first consultation (on-site, 0800 - service numbers, live chat on the website, WhatsApp consultation, etc.), free service offers or even giving sample products/trial subscriptions/test drives (also for existing customers) are efforts, where the brand offers a preliminary service. And you can rightfully hope that this will increase the relationship to the customer.