I went to a shares trading seminar once (hey who doesn’t want to get rich quick! It didn’t work by the way). The guy made an interesting comment. “A profit is still a profit, even if you lose some of it”. Just think about that for a minute. People are disappointed when they lose money, even if they are still making a profit. I thought that was pretty stupid, ’cause a profit is a profit, right?! Until it happened to me. I made a handsome profit BUT instead of getting out, I kept going and lost some of my profit. I was heartbroken!! I lost my money!!! Note that I still made a profit, just not as big as it could have been. So why so sad?
THAT is the beauty or maybe the frustration of our brains. It doesn’t like losing something you already own. It pains you TWICE as much to lose something than buying it according to the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising). Our brains therefore make us completely risk averse, ’cause losing something is SO much harder than getting it in the first place.
Gambling is case and point. I’m on a losing streak BUT because my brain hates losing, I keep gambling, losing even more. You can kind of understand why addictions develop. Kids are another GREAT example! Kid #1 choose one toy over another UNTIL Kid #2 wants to play with the discarded toy. BIG tears and tantrums from Kid #1, who didn’t even want to play with it in the first place. Why? Because he didn’t want to lose it either.
Even FOMO fits in here (for those of us who are not versed in Millennial speak: Fear Of Missing Out). Social currency is EXTREMELY important in today’s day and age. You get that by being in the know. If you own the knowledge, you own the top ranking spot in your group of friends. If your NOT, well…you lose and move down the pecking order. Losing your social standing…NOT gonna happen. Or think of event tickets that gets sold for 3, 4, 5, 6 times its original value, all because of FOMO.
You catch my drift? We are risk averse creatures. But the big question is how does this play out in the world of communications and marketing? The insurance industry is probably one of the best examples: if you don’t have cover for a car or house or handbag or whatever, you might find that you’ll end up losing it forever. The following South African ad is case and point.
Even though they focused on losing the physical stuff, an emotional angle can also work as per the following Cannes example (yes yes I know, I always use Cannes BUT they win for a reason).
So next time when you have that disappointing, regret feeling in the pit of your stomach because you might lose something, remember that it’s all in you head!