10 Reasons Why You Must Know the Difference Between Priming – Framing – Anchoring

Priming vs Framing vs Anchoring

How to gain a clear understanding of the differences priming, framing, and anchoring so you can craft more impactful, resonant, and effective marketing and sales strategies.

Sep 2023
  1. Understand why you as a customer centric business must care about cognitive biases
  2. Gain a clear understanding of the differences priming, framing, and anchoring is important so you can craft more impactful, resonant, and effective strategies.

From a Marketing and Sales perspective, a clear understanding of the differences between the concepts of priming, framing, and anchoring is important so you can craft more impactful, resonant, and effective strategies.

For an in-depth view on each Bias and their relevance in for Marketing, Sales, and Growth Strategies see:

Quick Intro of these Cognitive Biases

A short, clear and intuitive differentiation between these concepts used in the context of launching a new coffee blend.

Visualization of the cognitive biases of priming, framing, and anchoring

Imagine you want to launch a new premium coffee blend. How could you make use of these 3 concepts?


Priming, is a psychological mechanism where exposure to one stimulus influences the response to a subsequent, related stimulus.

This operates through the associative networks in our brains. When one concept is activated (the prime), it makes related concepts more accessible and easier to retrieve or recognize.

In the Coffee context this could mean that before introducing the premium coffee blend, the company shares content about the rich heritage of coffee cultivation, the art of coffee tasting, and the nuances that differentiate ordinary beans from premium ones.

The Priming Effect: When the premium coffee blend is finally introduced, consumers already have these themes of heritage, quality, and nuance at the forefront of their minds, making them more receptive to the product's premium positioning.


Framing refers to presenting information in a specific way to influence how it's perceived. It's about emphasizing certain aspects over others to guide interpretation.

The same piece of information can be interpreted differently depending on its framing. It's about the context, wording, or presentation that can sway our perspective.

The new premium coffee blend could be framed in various ways. Instead of just saying "a new coffee blend," it's introduced as "A journey of flavors, sourced from the world's oldest coffee farms, crafted for the true connoisseur."

The Framing Effect: This framing emphasizes the exclusivity, history, and craftsmanship of the blend, guiding consumers to perceive it as a luxury product rather than just another coffee.


Anchoring involves setting a reference point (the "anchor") that affects subsequent judgments or decisions.

Once an anchor is set, people tend to adjust away from it to arrive at their final judgment or decision, but often, the adjustments are insufficient, leading to a bias towards the anchor.

At the product launch, the company first mentions that similar premium blends, sourced from rare locations, often retail for $50 per pack. They then introduce their blend at a price of $40.

The Anchoring Effect: By setting the $50 price as an anchor, the actual price of $40 seems more reasonable and attractive, even if it's higher than what consumers might usually pay for coffee.

Why You Should Care as Customer-centric Business Leader

Cognitive biases are used all the times. Strategically implemented or unconsciously used because “that’s how it sounds right”. Used for helping to realize value for our customers or to influence them taking an action. Therefore, understanding these biases is a must if you communicate.

From a Marketing and Sales perspective, a clear understanding of the differences between the concepts of priming, framing, and anchoring is important so you can craft more impactful, resonant, and effective strategies.

Understanding can be the difference between a successful campaign or sale and a missed opportunity. A clear differentiation between priming, framing, and anchoring results in:

1. Customer Insights

At the heart of successful businesses is a deep understanding of consumers.

Recognizing how consumers can be primed or how their perceptions can be influenced by framing provides valuable insights for product development, marketing strategies, and sales tactics.

2. Optimized Marketing Campaigns

Every marketer's goal is to design campaigns that resonate with the target audience and drive desired actions.

By understanding priming, marketers can sequence their campaigns more effectively. Recognizing framing allows marketers to position their products in ways that resonate more deeply with consumers. Being aware of anchoring can help in setting price perceptions.

3. Brand Perception Management

Brands continually strive to manage and enhance how they're perceived in the market.

Framing can be used to control narratives, especially during crises or product launches. Priming can be used over longer periods to subtly reinforce brand values.

4. Competitive Differentiation

In saturated markets, brands need ways to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Companies that harness the power of cognitive biases effectively (and ethically) can create stronger brand loyalties, more effective marketing campaigns, and better product experiences.

Understanding the nuances between priming, framing, and anchoring equips you with tools to navigate the complex world of business more effectively, ethically, and strategically.

5. Enhanced Sales Techniques

Sales professionals aim to persuade and convert potential customers. The manner in which information is presented can heavily influence a sale.

Sales professionals can use priming to set the tone of a discussion, framing to position the product or solution in the most favorable light, and anchoring to guide negotiations, especially on price.

6. User Behavior Prediction

Predicting how customers will react to different stimuli is key for both marketing strategies and sales pitches.

By understanding these cognitive biases, professionals can better predict and influence consumer behavior. For instance, if a marketer knows how a consumer was primed, they can better predict the consumer's reaction to a subsequent stimulus.

7. Effective Pricing Strategies

Price is a significant factor in purchase decisions. How a price is presented can make it seem more attractive or reasonable.

Anchoring is a direct tool here. By first setting a reference price (anchor), companies can make their actual price seem more appealing. This tactic is seen in sales promotions with "before" and "now" prices.

8. Ethical Sales and Marketing

There's a fine line between influence and manipulation. You as a business leader have a responsibility to act ethically.

While these techniques can be potent, they must be used in a way to ensure consumer trust and brand integrity.

A clear understanding of priming, framing, and anchoring also means recognizing when their use might be unethical or manipulative and.

Crossing ethical boundaries might result in destroying a firm's value. For instance, excessive anchoring in a way that misleads consumers about actual discounts can erode trust.

9. Decision-Making and Negotiation

Understanding cognitive biases and heuristics like priming, framing, and anchoring can help you recognize when you're being influenced by such biases. And also, when your stakeholders or customers might be influenced. By being aware, you can make more informed and rational decisions.

Anchoring, for example, is a common tactic in negotiations. The first price or term set can influence the entire negotiation process. Understanding this can make one a more astute negotiator.

10. Effective Communication

Crafting messages, whether for marketing, negotiations, or internal communications, is a vital skill for business professionals.

Knowing how to prime an audience, how to frame a message, or how to set an anchor can make communications more impactful. For instance, a CEO trying to drive organizational change might use framing to present the change in a positive light.

Deep dive Discriminating Among the Three

While all three concepts—priming, framing, and anchoring—play roles in shaping our perceptions and decisions, they operate through different mechanisms and have distinct effects when applied in sales and marketing.

NATUREPriming is about stimulus and response, where one concept makes another concept more accessible.Framing revolves around the presentation of information and how different "frames" can lead to different interpretations or decisions.Anchoring is about using an initial piece of information as a reference point, which then biases subsequent evaluations or decisions.
APPLICATIONSused to influence subsequent behavior without participants' awareness.used in media, marketing, and negotiations to influence perceptions and decisions.particularly relevant in pricing strategies, negotiations, and any scenario where numerical evaluations are involved.
INFLUENCEsubtly influences by making certain concepts more accessible.overtly changes the context or presentation to influence perception.sets a reference point that can skew subsequent evaluations.
In the Context of Marketing
involves exposing consumers to a stimulus (like an advertisement or a brand logo) to influence their subsequent interactions with related products or brand messages.Framing in marketing refers to presenting product information or brand messages in a way that highlights certain aspects to influence consumer perceptions.often involves presenting a price or value proposition that sets a reference point for consumers, influencing their perception of subsequent prices or offers.
Brands might use priming in advertisement sequences. For instance, a commercial evoking feelings of happiness or family might be followed by a product-focused ad, aiming to transfer those positive feelings to the product.Marketers use framing to emphasize the benefits of a product or to present information in a more favorable light.It's commonly used in pricing strategies, especially in promotions or deals.
Example “Eco-friendly Smartphone”Before introducing the eco-friendly smartphone, the company runs a series of advertisements highlighting the importance of sustainability and the environmental impact of electronic waste.The eco-friendly smartphone is presented not just as a device with sustainable materials but as "The phone that helps you save the planet, one call at a time."The initial advertising states that similar technology in other smartphones costs 20% more without the added eco-friendly benefits.
EffectNow, when the eco-friendly smartphone is launched, consumers already have sustainability top-of-mind, making them more receptive to the product's eco-friendly selling points.This frames the product as not just another smartphone but a tool for positive environmental change, emphasizing its unique selling proposition.This sets a reference price in consumers' minds, making the actual price of the eco-friendly smartphone seem more reasonable or even a bargain in comparison.
In the Context of Sales
might involve setting a mood or tone early in an interaction that influences the subsequent stages of the sales process.revolves around presenting solutions, products, or offers in a way that emphasizes their value or addresses specific needs of the client.typically involves starting negotiations with a price or term that establishes a reference point for the rest of the negotiation.
Sales representatives might begin a conversation by discussing a client's known preferences or emphasizing shared values to prime the client for the main pitch.A sales rep uses framing to position a product or service in the best possible light relative to the client's needs or competitors' offerings.The first number or condition mentioned in a negotiation can serve as an anchor, influencing subsequent offers and counteroffers.
Example “Eco-friendly Smartphone”At the start of a pitch to a retailer, the sales representative shares data on the growing consumer demand for sustainable products.The sales rep doesn't just provide specs of the smartphone. Instead, they frame it as "a device that meets modern tech demands while aligning with the values of the next generation of consumers."The sales rep starts by mentioning that similar smartphones (without the eco-friendly features) are typically sold at a 20% higher wholesale price.
EffectThis primes the retailer to see the eco-friendly smartphone not just as another product but as an answer to current market trends.The retailer is now viewing the product not just based on its features but on its potential market appeal and alignment with consumer values.When the sales rep offers the wholesale price for the eco-friendly smartphone, the retailer perceives it as a better deal due to the initial anchored price.

In summary, while priming, framing, and anchoring are cognitive concepts that have applications across many domains, their specific applications and implications differ when looked at through the lenses of marketing and sales. In both realms, understanding these concepts helps you in crafting more effective strategies and interactions.

Where can I learn more about the individual Cognitive Biases?

For an in-depth view on each Bias and their relevance in for Marketing, Sales, and Growth Strategies see:

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