Gain- vs. Loss-Framed Messaging: What do patients best respond to?

21 Jun

AHAA Consumer Behavior Series: Message Framing

The way we communicate to customers through marketing materials is extremely important when it comes to their feelings and opinions about, and ultimately their purchasing decisions towards our brand. From the tone we set to the phrasing we use, the way we communicate in an advertising landscape can make or break the relationship between the customer and the brand. Especially in the healthcare industry, messages conveyed to patients must be tailored to speak directly to the audience and meet them at the exact point of their journey towards healthy living.

In the first installment of AHAA’s Consumer Behavior Series, we’ll examine the different ways to frame messages when speaking to hearing healthcare patients.

  • Gain-Framed Messaging
    • This type of messaging focuses on the benefits of acting on a certain behavior – put more simply, the benefits of purchasing the service/product in question.
    • Ex: Hearing aids help people with hearing loss better connect and communicate with loved ones.
  • Loss-Framed Messaging
    • On the other side of the coin, loss-framed messaging stresses the negatives of not acting on a certain behavior – or the negatives of not purchasing said service/product.
    • Ex: Without hearing aids, people with hearing loss experience a disconnect from loved ones and suffer anxiety.
  • Mixed-Framed Messaging
    • The combination of gain- and loss-framed messaging; usually introducing the gain as a solution to the loss.
    • Ex: Hearing loss can lead to communication problems with loved ones, but the good news is that hearing aids can dramatically improve your ability to reconnect.

its the way u say t

Consider the age-old idiom of using “the carrot or the stick” to change behavior based on either rewards or punishments. Gain-framed hearing messaging represents the carrot – or the future benefits of seeking treatment, whereas loss-framed hearing messaging represents the stick – the negative flipside to not seeking treatment. There are some campaigns that successfully employ the “stick approach” of loss-framed messaging (think the scare tactics of anti-smoking campaigns), but the hearing industry is its own unique landscape and therefore requires a different framing device to motivate patients to purchase.

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Overall, gain-framed messaging tends to be the most effective approach in the hearing healthcare sphere. Patients respond better to positive language that emphasizes the benefits of seeking audiological treatment and the improved quality of life that results.

The doom-and-gloom nature of most loss-framed messaging instills a sense of fear in patients that does not translate into the positive mindset associated with ready-to-buy attitudes. Using a negative voice can come off as critical and judgmental to the audience, automatically isolating them further. Especially in a climate where hearing loss is already stigmatized and associated with weakness and old age, loss-framed messaging does not perform well with the target audience.

Of course, there is a time and place when the negative aspects of untreated hearing loss may need to be addressed, like in educational seminars and informational articles. However, when it comes to introducing your customers to your brand and practice – via print ads, brochures, direct mailings, etc. – show your patients the increased quality of life possible with better hearing, and how you can help them achieve that.

Wellness-focused materials are great tools for putting a positive spin on seeking hearing help. Make sure your practice has some sort of Wellness Program in place, and use promotional items to encourage patients to commit to hearing and whole body health. Help your patients look to a healthier, happier future and communicate the benefits of taking the first step towards hearing wellness!

If you have questions about gain- or loss-framed messaging, or would like any assistance in developing any wellness materials, contact marketing@ahaanet.com today!

 

 

 

Sources:

American Marketing Association, Framing Health Care Messages: Why Interpersonal Context Matters

Health-Care Product Advertising: The Influences of Message Framing and Perceived Product Characteristics

Positive Messages Make the Most Impact in Public Health Campaigns

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