The power of anticipation pervades all aspects of human decision-making and consumer behavior. Anticipation is the missing ingredient of marketing. It is the coming attraction to brand experiences and an active force that contributes to marketing’s bottom line. Here we’ll highlight the under-appreciated role of anticipation and diverse ways it will be changing the future of marketing, branding, and business!

“Anticipation is rapidly becoming one of the most relevant, value-generating forces in marketing and brand building.”

Anticipation & Stimulus Response Behavior

The famous Pavlov dog experiment vividly illustrates the power of anticipation. Through classical conditioning, Pavlov’s dog learned to anticipate food at the sound of bell (Pavlov, 1941). Good marketers try to replicate these stimulus-response contingencies in the real world through conditioning an anticipation at the onset of an advertisement or brand logo. From a stimulus-response perspective, behavior hinges on anticipation.

Anticipation & Goal Directed Behavior

In addition to stimulus-driven behavior (environment or socially cued), goal-driven behavior also requires anticipation. Before pursuing a goal, it requires anticipating the outcome or reward of performing a behavior. For example, if my goal is to lose weight, it requires anticipating the outcomes of eating different foods. Stated differently, we will eat foods that we anticipate will satisfy our weight-loss objectives. Simply put, anticipating outcomes of our actions is a prerequisite to achieving goals.

Anticipation & Decision-Making

People derive value from anticipation. Whether we are salivating about our dinner plans for this evening or excited about an upcoming Disney vacation – anticipating future events is a direct source of value (Loewenstein, 1987). Anticipating, otherwise known as savoring, is not only a source of value for consumers (e.g., thinking about a vacation can make a vacation more fun) but it also can change decision-making. In fact, the consumer may enjoy anticipating (savoring) so much that he/she delays a purchase decision. This is known as “Hypobolic Discounting“.

Anticipation is a Learnable Skill

To be successful in any competitive sport requires anticipation. In baseball we anticipate the baseball’s trajectory, in football we anticipate the next play the offense will run, and in chess we anticipate our opponent’s next move. The best thing about anticipation is that it is a learnable skill. In fact, anticipation is what separates top performers from beginners (Agliot et al., 2008). Experts are able to anticipate their opponents moves. They have a sixth sense that gives them a competitive advantage.

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been” – Wayne Gretzky

Anticipation & Emotions

In a rapidly changing world riddled with uncertainty, we experience and anticipate affective responses when navigating future events. In other words, we not only feel emotions here and now, but also anticipate emotions that we will feel in the future. Should I approach the woman at the bar? What if I buy her a drink? What if I invest in bitcoin? How will I feel if I eat this cake? Emotions are anticipated with the certainty of future events which influence human behavior (Baumgartner et al., 2008).

Anticipation & Innovation

For businesses to innovate they are required to anticipate customer needs. The best innovators continuously think beyond the present (anticipate) to imagine and implement new products and services to serve customers better (Kandampully & Duddy, 1999). Anticipating customers’ future needs provides the edge in business innovation. Steve Jobs highlights the value of anticipation…

Anticipation & Communication

Can you imagine a writer, speaker or film director who never anticipated their audience? Effective communication is inextricably linked to anticipating our audiences to determine what we should say (Swarup & Gasser, 2007). The best speakers, writers, moviemakers and leaders are simply experts in anticipation. Expert communicators captivate audiences, write bestselling books and influence masses by anticipating their audience before they act. They begin with the audience’s reaction in mind.

Anticipation & Social Behavior

Relationships, commitments, and social interaction are rooted in anticipation. If someone asks you to loan them $10, most would anticipate we would get paid back. All relationships require some form of trust and trust involves anticipation. Whether we are cheering up a friend, closing a sale, or trying to impress an audience, we anticipate how others will feel, perceive, understand and react. Relationships and dynamic social interaction require anticipation.

Why is Anticipation Important To BRAND GROWTH?

  1. Anticipation precedes all action.
  2. Anticipation impacts consumer decisions.
  3. Anticipation is a source of customer value.
  4. Anticipation can be a business’s competitive advantage.

Just because your strategy has worked up until now doesn’t mean that it will work in the future.”

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