Inertia messaging is often a vital part of an overall defense strategy. In the ongoing US presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s current strategy is using it, more specifically risk aversion, against fellow Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz.

Inertia messaging can be an important part of your overall messaging plan. In this week’s lead story on, our team takes a look at decision behavior research and how the emotions of inertia can be used to drive brand messaging strategies.

What does Donald Trump have to do with the emotions of inertia?

“The field of decision behavior research is of growing interest to market researchers. One of the more compelling forms of decision behavior strategy assumes the form of messaging tactics aimed at encouraging customers to not take action (i.e., not switching to a new product or service). New products, disruptive competitors and category shrinkage are inevitable in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace. For existing products, other than price, messaging strategy is one of the most important defensive levers available.

Most product advertising, except perhaps for brand positioning, has a positive call to action: buy this, do that, etc. This article is about a call to inaction: don’t take this action, don’t switch. These strategies are aimed at creating the emotion of inertia in order to delay the switch to new competitors and disruptors. This is very important for retention strategies and extending the life cycle of legacy products. Another important use is defending against a generic or store brand.

While politics and brand-marketing are distinctly different, political campagins can provide great examples of how decision behavior research is put to use. For example, Donald Trump is using one of the primary emotions of inertia – risk aversion – in his fight with Ted Cruz. Trump has raised the issue of where Cruz was born as a concern about choosing Cruz as a presidential candidate, pointing out the looming lawsuits about his citizenship and raising doubt about Cruz’s ability to run for president. If this is discussed enough, it could become part of a set of reasons for primary voters to choose a different candidate. The issue creates doubt or questions in the minds of voters. In other words, it causes hesitation. The creation of doubt and alerting decision-makers to the risk of a choice is one of the primary emotions of inertia. In this case, which is quite unusual, it is being used offensively. In most cases it is used to defend. Of course, companies tend to be a lot more subtle in their messaging than Trump…”

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