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The Familiarity Bias

Storytelling tip – sean walsh

Pizza and a coke, or would you prefer something exotic?

Familiarity bias

“Just go for a pizza and a Coke!” You're on holiday, seated in a restaurant with a menu in an unfamiliar language. The food is likely to be excellent, but with a margherita pizza, you at least know what you're getting. 'What the farmer doesn't know...' It's a classic case of 'familiarity bias'. Sure, you might be an adventurer who goes for the most exotic dish, but the 'familiarity principle' is more common than you might think. It applies to holidaymakers, investors, and marketing strategies alike.

What can you do with it?
The 'familiarity bias' just means people like sticking to what they know. Think of Coca-Cola as an example. It's been around forever and everyone knows it. Even with new drinks popping up, lots of folks still go for a good old Coca-Cola because it feels familiar and brings back good memories. To keep this strong position, Coca-Cola spent over 4.6 billion euros on marketing last year.

In practice
How can you make use of the 'familiarity bias' in the upcoming week? Let's say you're giving a presentation or trying to get your point across in a meeting. If you include things that your audience already knows and recognizes, you'll make a stronger connection and get your message across more effectively. Just make sure it's something they're familiar with! Your audience will appreciate it.

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