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Increasing sales by reciprocity

People are subconsciously indebted to you when you activate reciprocity. It builds brand/product loyalty. It is noteworthy to quickly point out to you that reciprocity compared to deals and promos must be subconscious. Your customers must never suspect you are giving them something to get something back. This is what distinguishes it from Buy A and get B free and kind of promo.

Initiating reciprocity

Reciprocity is initiated by giving something without requesting anything in return. When you give off something free to someone without requesting any favor in return, subconsciously, the person develops a form of loyalty to reciprocate a favor wherever and whenever there is an opportunity arises to do so.

For an example, imagine you’re driving on a rainy day; you meet a man along the way and offered him a lift. You drop him off and didn’t request anything in return. Weeks later, he happens to be an office assistant at a firm you were bidding for a contract. You’d agree with me that he is likely to express some form of loyalty to you compared to other bidders and would readily divulge any favorable information has to you as far as that contract goes.

Why? because he is trying to reciprocate the favor of the lift. It’s the normal human behavior and this can be applied to brands too.

An example of brand application

A tea shop or fruit juice company decides to do Orange Day in which random people can walk in and get oranges free without being coerced to buy anything.

This action activates reciprocity (subconscious) in people especially in those that benefited directly. They are subconsciously drawn to that company’s brand and develop loyalty towards it. They draw conclusions from their emotions that the company is a good company just because of free fruits. As a subconscious act of reciprocation, they are likely to switch to buying fruit juice produced by that company brand if they were not doing that before (All things being equal; in terms of affordability and accessibility).

Share a Coke with…”Your Name” Success Story

When Coke started off customizing their product with peoples’ names, the company sold tremendously. One of the reasons why it was a success is reciprocity; customization was free!

The campaign idea started off in a conference room in Sydney, Australia back in 2011. That summer, Coke sold more than 250 million named bottles and cans in a nation of just under 23 million people. The campaign has since made its way around the world, reaching more than 70 countries.

People didn’t have to pay a dime. Even the mass produced ones with names already printed didn’t cost extra. It was still sold at the usual price of N100. If the company had decided to sell the customized ones at 150, though a few people would still go ahead to do it but the entire campaign wouldn’t be as successful, after-all it was the same content and quantity with customized cans. Only few would pay an extra N50 for a customized disposable can which is completely useless and doomed for recycling after drinking the content in it.


Coke has since stopped the name customization campaign but the reciprocating effect of customizing their cans for people free is still huge on their sales today. They won more brand loyal fan base by doing that free.

Give it a try!

You can activate the reciprocity of the public to develop a likeness for your brand. Give and it shall be given back to you.

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  • okenwa Aug 3,2016 at 8:13 am


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