Framing is Everything

Rory Sutherland tells some wonderful stories about the power of framing.  If you want to be persuasive, you must get good at framing the argument.  Good framing shifts the argument to a playing field where you can achieve your ends and the other can feel that they have gotten a good deal.

Prices are not expensive or inexpensive in abstract, only in relative terms.  If I say that “this watch costs €100” – I have allowed you to frame your perspective on expensive or cheap.  If I say “other watches in this very category sell for over €1,000; this watch costs €100” – I have started to provide my own framing for the situation.

Compared to what?

Rory talks about small shifts in framing have a powerful impact.  He gives the example from car sales that it is far better to give a rebate of €3000 on top of trade in valuation versus giving €3000 off the full purchase price.  The framing of a trade-in price of €7000 plus €3000 is much more impactful than offering €3000 reduction on the full price of €22,000.  It is the same €3000 in cash, but it is not the same €3000 from a psychological point of view.

This framing also works for selling expensive cars at plane and boat shows – context shifts way we see the price.  A €300,000 car seems expensive when seen in a showroom of €50,000 cars…  but it feels more reasonable when placed next to €1.2M boats or €6M private jets.

Here’s Rory’s talk at Zeitgeist:

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