Are you Runnin’ Like a Rat in a Maze?

Imagine I give you two rewards cards for your favorite coffee shop. The first card doesn’t have any punches in it yet. You know the gig, buy 10 cups of coffee and get one free. The second card has 12 boxes for the stamps but two of them are already punched for you. Which one would you be more likely to use? After all, they both require 10 more stamps to get the free cup of coffee. The answer is the second card with 2 stamps already on it. Because of the Goal-Gradient Effect, people are more likely to pursue the goal of getting that free cup of coffee on a card that’s already been pre-punched.

In 1934, scientist, Clark Hull found that rats in a maze actually started to run faster when they knew that they were approaching the food. People are similar as we tend to move more rapidly toward our goals when we know that they’re within reach. People actually drink coffee more frequently the closer they get to a fully-punched card. So, next time you’re thinking about creating a rewards program for your customers, remember the Goal-Gradient Effect and start your customers off with a few stamps and see if they don’t run like a rat in a maze to fill up that card. Hope that helps.

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