Rock, Paper, Scissors, Digital…

Apr 19, 2021

A traditional child’s game across the world, rock, paper, scissors is a non-cooperative game where no option is absolutely better than the other. A player cannot always choose rock because it will hint the others of his/her next move, and so each player has 1 out of 3 chances to win a given round. In game theory, this game structure is referred to as mixed strategy Nash equilibrium. 

Psychology is an important part of a marketing strategy as is gamification and game theory. Studies show that players behave more biologically than rationally when making decisions. Research from Zhejiang university, found that when players won a round using a particular choice (e.g., “rock”), they were more likely to stick with that winning option in the next round. But if they lost, they tended to switch to one of the other options, and the option they chose was consistent with what would beat the choice they had just made. So if “rock” had been chosen and was beaten by “paper,” the player would try “paper” on the next round, and so on”. (Are you still with me….I promise I have a point to all this!)

The ”win-stay, lose-shift” strategy is a conditional response that eventually will be successful and if used consistently can be called a “Pavlov Strategy” meaning, the player continues to choose their strategies based on past experiences and results. Does this sound familiar? A bit complicated, but familiar. We all make day-to-day decisions based on our experiences and what we think will yield the results we’re looking for. 

Today, in this ever-changing and fast-paced world, we find ourselves trying to make decisions with no experience from past results and hoping to get them right.  This is our new reality and nimbly adapting will assure our survival. 

The past three paragraphs are necessary to explain the need to explore the new, try the unknown, and be open to the results. It doesn’t have to be a wild guess or chosen like the lethal game of Russian roulette. There are systems to create winning strategies, and for all of us with plenty of experience in traditional marketing, the good news is that digital marketing can be our new best friend. The ability to offer increased tracking abilities and make overnight adjustments or micro adjustments to improve results, cannot be had with traditional retail or field activations. 

As the population quickly had to adapt to their new reality over the past year and created new habits, brands need to adapt their marketing and approach to talking to consumers in the way they listen and understand, not necessarily in the way we know how to do it or we’ve done in the past.

So, if you have only partnered with us on in-person activations, we invite you to play a new game with us, rock, paper, scissors, DIGITAL!

This article was written by Ilyana Benson