Understanding Mindsets for Smarter Marketing

By: Latika Karnani

Implicit theory of intelligence refers to the fundamental underlying beliefs regarding whether or not intelligence or abilities can change. According to this idea, there are two types of people: people who have fixed mindset or who have a growth mindset. People with fixed mindsets believe that intelligence and skills are inherent. People ‘are who they are’ and there is nothing one can do about it. Since these people are concerned about whether they have good traits or not, their main focus is to demonstrate their abilities. If they don’t possess it, they may go at lengths to hide it. On the other hand, people with a growth mindset believe people can substantially change and that learning and experience can foster development. These people are willing to make mistakes or appear foolish in the short run in order to maximize their development over time. There are various ways to leverage the knowledge of implicit theory of intelligence. It influences product interest, brand preference, manager’s behavior and even company image.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets

Since skills are inherent, according to fixed mindset people, efforts is something they feel is not required. They enjoy effortless success. Whereas people with a growth mindset believe that efforts foster development. So products that display that they are effortless in use would interest fixed mindset people. Products that need effort would be attractive to people with a growth mindset. If a product can be fixed or the service improved, people with a growth mindset may be more likely than those with a fixed mindset to give the establishment an opportunity to do so. For example, growth mindset individuals may be relatively satisfied with information about how an organization plans to improve in the future. They may be more willing to try the service again, accepting relief in the form of a coupon or voucher for future service. In contrast, people with a fixed mindset, having had a bad experience, might be more skeptical of whether the company can improve its products or service in general. Because of this, people with a fixed mindset may insist on monetary compensation for their loss or dissatisfaction.

If this information is leveraged properly it could reap exponential benefits. If sales persons are trained to identify such people, they could sell their products differently. For example, if you are selling Hydroxycut- a weight reducing pill, to make the product more attractive to a fixed mindset person, you might show before and after pictures. But if the sales person figures out that the person has a growth mindset, he would talk about the active ingredients of the product and how ephedrine in it would boost their metabolism, so that they can run more and be more active; the product will be more appealing.

While people chronically adopt one mindset or the other, mindsets can also be situationally activated. Clear and salient information in the local environment can shift people’s mindsets at least temporarily. It is an interesting empirical question as to how ads may most effectively induce a mindset in consumers. Ads that begin by featuring the development or change of the actor (e.g., “I was once a 97 lb. weakling, but now…”) may put viewers in a growth mindset when considering the message that follows. Other ads that encourage consumers to imagine what traits the product will confer on them may induce a more fixed mindset in the moment.


Mary C Murphy (2015.06.05). Mindsets shape consumer behavior. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1057740815000650


One thought on “Understanding Mindsets for Smarter Marketing

  1. Xinran Zuo May 13, 2016 / 3:36 pm

    I do agree with the author that mindset is a big concern for marketers. I think mindset can reflect manay part of this person. It can be born, that the foundamental things were coming from the parents and family, so that the family background is a everylasting term for a person since thousand years ago. And it could get grown after education, experiences and so on, so that it can reflect the life-long for a people, it also could reflect the buying behaviour of a person.


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