What Is Availability Heuristic?

How Does the Availability Heuristic Apply to Marketing?

Henry Foster
Last updated: Aug 14, 2020
Originally published: Apr 11, 2019


Availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that assumes a product or an idea that comes to mind fast is more important than an idea that is not recalled as fast. This leads to a bias towards new news over timeless truths.

Availability Heuristic Examples in Marketing:

Vivid Stories and Hyped Media: A dull and boring event may be more common than a vivid and dramatic event. However, our brains are captivated by stories with high emotion. As a result, you are more likely to recall those stories.

Media publishers know this, and often exaggerate a story to make it more exciting. This can lead to an inaccurate guess at the potential likelihood and risk of an event.

The Power of Retargeting Ads: According to CMO.com, retargeting can bring the highest lift in brand searches by 1,046%. Retargeted visitors are 70% more likely to convert compared to ones who aren’t. One reason retargeting is effective is it applies the availability heuristic to marketing.

By showing the same ad to a potential buyer, they are more likely to recall your message over a competitor’s message. As a result, they will believe that your product is more important than a competitor’s product.

See Also: Affect Heuristic, Agenda-Setting Theory, Attribute Substitution, Confirmation Bias, Gambler's Fallacy, Illusory Correlation, Representativeness Heuristic, Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

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Henry Foster

Henry Foster is a digital marketer from Boston, making money for B2B companies by generating leads via paid search and social.

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