Thursday January 21, 2021 By Dave
Six Advantages of Hyperbolic Discounting

6 advantages of hyperbolic discounting

It’s possible you’ll not know what hyperbolic discounting is, but it surely has huge ramifications on society as an entire. Moreover, lots of people don’t use the facility of hyperbolic discounting in conversion optimization.

What Is Hyperbolic Discounting?

Put merely, hyperbolic discounting occurs when folks would fairly obtain $5 proper now than $10 later. That’s it. Individuals worth the immediacy of time over the upper worth of cash.

Example of hyperbolic discounting - a $5 bill now or $20 bill later.

Expressed one other manner, hyperbolic discounting is an individual’s want for an instantaneous reward fairly than a higher-value, delayed reward.

hyperbolic discounting - "now" and "later" boxes, with "now" box checked

It’s possible you’ll be confused why somebody wouldn’t select the delayed reward if it means a higher profit.

Right here’s the factor: hyperbolic discounting is a cognitive bias, that means that it’s an ingrained psychological snafu that defies logic and common sense. When hyperbolic discounting is framed differently, it has unbelievable energy.

The facility of hyperbolic discounting adjusts based mostly on the time concerned. If you must wait to obtain each rewards you grow to be extra prone to need the reward with the best profit.

For instance, for those who had to decide on between $50 now or $100 in 6 months, you’re almost certainly going to take the $50 at this time. Nonetheless, in case you are supplied $50 in 9 years or $100 in a yr, you’re extra probably to decide on the $100.

The sample follows a hyperbola. As soon as a sure period of time has handed, folks start to decide on the choice with the higher worth once more. For instance, most will decide to take $100 in ten years over $50 in 9 years.

That’s the place the hyperbola a part of hyperbolic discounting is available in. A hyperbolic curve shows the impact of hyperbolic discounting, in distinction to an exponential curve.

That is an exponential curve:

exponential curve table

This can be a hyperbolic curve:

hyperbolic curve inverted

Hyperbolically, the low cost issue diminishes based mostly on the amount of time that elapses.

Hyperbolic discounting vs. exponential discounting

How Hyperbolic Discounting Works within the Mind

Hyperbolic discounting isn’t some nifty gimmick that generally works and generally doesn’t. Our brains are programmed to be drawn to the tug of hyperbolic discounting.

Though we are able to’t keep away from the emotions that pop up because of hyperbolic discounting, we are able to fight it by recognizing when it’s taking place and understanding easy methods to proceed.

google result studies on hyperbolic discounting

A spate of scholarly research have confirmed the validity of hyperbolic discounting.

Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience found the mind makes discounting judgments reflexively and routinely.

We aren’t considering by way of whether or not we would like extra now or much less later. We inherently need to get the profit as rapidly as attainable. This want for immediate reward diminishes as time goes on.

Hyperbolic Discounting Origins

Some scientists clarify hyperbolic discounting by way of an evolutionary approach. In case your ancestors discovered meals, they might kill it and eat it immediately. They wouldn’t let the scrawny antelope cross to probably get a fatter one later. They might get the scrawny one now. One little antelope meal now could be higher than two fats ones in a month. By that point, the hunter-gatherer would die.

Think about a dehydrated particular person touring by way of the desert. Forward, they see a small glass of water. In the event that they deny the sip of water and maintain going just a bit longer, they may obtain 100 water bottles. What do they do?

Based on hyperbolic discounting principle, they’d select to maintain life by having just a little little bit of water now fairly than loads of water later.

The Energy of Now in Hyperbolic Discounting

Copywriters, psychologists, and mothers perceive the hyperbolic discounting phenomenon all too properly. We wish what we would like, and we would like it now.

In the famous marshmallow experiment, Stanford psychologists led a baby right into a room and supplied the kid a single marshmallow. The deal with was sitting there on a desk proper in entrance of them. If the kid might wait fifteen minutes with out consuming the marshmallow, they might obtain a second marshmallow.

Though most youngsters have been capable of maintain their urge for food in test, the research highlighted a problem generally known as delayed gratification.

Delayed gratification is the behavioral reverse of hyperbolic discounting. Delayed gratification means “making a alternative which limits the flexibility of getting one thing now, for the pleasure of with the ability to have one thing larger or higher later.”

It’s an idea that goes towards hyperbolic discounting and the ingrained beliefs of tradition — the entire “we would like it now” thought.

Our brains are wired for now. Neuroscientists have found that our brains gentle up like a Fourth of July night time when we get stimulated by the power of something right now.

brain scans lighting up when being presented with immediate rewards/hyperbolic discounting

What Are The Results of Hyperbolic Discounting?

Aside from gross sales gimmicks and ads, hyperbolic discounting can have devastating results elsewhere in life.

For instance, every year, tons of of 1000’s of individuals obtain coronary-artery bypass graft surgical procedure. The surgical procedure saves their lives. Nonetheless, it solely saves their lives for the long run in the event that they apply the proper way of life adjustments.

Really useful adjustments embrace no smoking, extra exercise, a more healthy food plan, and faithfully taking drugs. Tragically, nevertheless, “Ninety % of these sufferers resolve to forego survival and luxury in favor of the short-term pleasures of unhealthy meals and laziness” (source).

Let’s study one other large instance of hyperbolic discounting. It’s not as morbid, but it surely’s equally devastating: bank cards.

Bank cards push hyperbolic discounting to the max. A bank card consumer can have one thing of worth now, or they will wait till they will afford the merchandise, thereby saving them the cash they might be paying in large rates of interest.

Right here’s one other instance. Many individuals save for retirement as a result of there’s no fast reward for saving for the long run.

hyperbolic discounting's impact on retirement savings

When you might exit to eat at a pleasant restaurant for $200 tonight, why put that cash in some retirement fund to get pleasure from when your 72?!

Ready to put money into retirement has its personal hyperbolic curve, and it’s not very fairly.

graph showing hyperbolic discounting's affect on retirement savings

Hyperbolic discounting is dreadfully highly effective. It’s onerous for folks to disclaim themselves now as a way to get pleasure from a reward later. I might by no means advise any marketer to use the hyperbolic discounting precept in dangerous methods.

I’ve used the above examples to point out the unbelievable energy of hyperbolic discounting, however I additionally need to use them as a warning. On a macroeconomic scale, hyperbolic discounting can have devastating outcomes.

On a smaller scale — conversion optimization, ecommerce, and many others. — the outcomes are innocuous, useful, and acceptable.

Put Hyperbolic Discounting to Work

Are you able to leverage the facility of hyperbolic discounting? Right here’s the way it’s carried out:

1. Elevate Your Worth. Wait For The Reward.

Hyperbolic discounting provides you license to boost your value so long as you delay cost.

If you supply to postpone cost in your items or companies, the objects’ value turns into much less related to the customer.

It is because as quickly as they notice they don’t need to pay immediately, the shopper doesn’t take into consideration paying. As a substitute, the facility of hyperbolic discounting and the reward of getting the product instantly dominates your clients’ considering.

As a substitute of considering, “Wow! That’s costly!” the customer is considering “Wow! I can have it now!” Primarily based on the hyperbolic discounting precept, the wow-I-can-have-it-now thought goes to win out.

As quickly as the worth consideration is eliminated, the customer is able to make their buy, even when it prices them some huge cash (sometime). You’re able to revenue.

2. Purchase Now. Pay Later.

This is likely one of the commonest types of hyperbolic discounting in advertising and marketing. It’s possible you’ll understand it higher because the “Buy now! Pay later!” method. makes use of this method. Their web site is filled with hyperbolic discounting. If you wish to train your delayed gratification muscle tissues, go test them out.

examples of QVC hyperbolic discounting techniques like "buy now! pay later!"

PayPal’s notorious PayPal Credit score (beforehand “Invoice Me Later”) was additionally constructed on the entire psychological precept of hyperbolic discounting.

paypal credit screenshot

Montgomery Ward does it, too.

montgomery ward example of hyperbolic discounting

Lurking behind the precept of hyperbolic discounting is the truth that you’re making use of for a bank card. Keep in mind what I informed you about bank cards? They’re constructed on the facility of hyperbolic discounting.

You don’t have to supply bank cards as a way to use the hyperbolic discounting method. You possibly can merely delay cost, permitting the consumer to make a purchase order and wait to pay. It’s dangerous for you, but it surely might enhance gross sales.

3. Give an Speedy Present.

With hyperbolic discounting, timing is every little thing. That’s why some folks seek advice from it as temporal discounting.

The time factor is an important issue for consumers. Somewhat than anticipate any size of time for a reward, they like advantages which are accessible instantly.

In lots of instances, a easy and cheap present will suffice. Generally, customers will convert based mostly on the promise of an instantaneous outcome, even when the complete product will not be accessible till later.

EA Entry provides avid gamers the flexibility to affix a program the place the massive outcomes aren’t accessible till later. Gamers are likely to convert, nevertheless, as a result of they get fast entry to the elements of the sport.

example of "immediate gift" hyperbolic discounting technique - EA Access

4. Cost a Larger pPrice for a Shorter Time period.

Have you ever ever seen that some web sites offer payment plans that don’t make monetary sense?

Right here’s the kind of factor they provide:

  • Purchase 1 month: $9.99
  • Purchase 1 yr: $39.99

Most individuals can do the mathematics. They know that there are twelve months in a yr. If one yr prices $39.99, then one month on the yearly price is just $3.33. Why would anybody pay $9.99 for one month?

Hyperbolic discounting, that’s why. The consumer needs to pay much less now. They don’t need to pay extra, even when it leads to a reduction over the long run. They take into account the difficulty from a hyperbolic discounting perspective, not a real worth perspective.

Right here’s an instance:

Example of Grammarly's hyperbolic discounting subscription page

Grammarly makes use of this on their pricing web page. Customers pays $29.95 every month, or $11.66 per 30 days. Clearly, you’d select to pay the $11.66.

Nonetheless, you must maintain the framing impact in thoughts. How the worth is framed closely influences how the worth is perceived. Thus, when introduced with a lump sum cost of $139.95, customers are tentative. They might fairly get monetary savings now than get monetary savings over the long run.

As a conversion optimizer, you need to use this system to your benefit. Customers get to decide on their cost technique. You’re getting extra worth per order from the short-term pricing choice as a result of consumers are closely influenced by hyperbolic discounting.

5. Pay For Referrals Proper Away.

Online affiliate programs are very talked-about, however not very strategic. Right here’s how they work:

If clients refer pals, then they get cash when the chums enroll. Right here’s a screengrab from Payoneer:

Payoneer screengrab of the hyperbolic discounting technique of the friend referral program

This can be a good function, however who needs to attend for his or her pals to enroll? Although the payout may very well be large, the delay is unbearable. Keep in mind, folks need the reward now.

A extra strategic method of hyperbolic discounting is to pay folks for the referral, fairly than making them wait for his or her pals to truly enroll.

When you supply, say, ten cents for each referred good friend, then you definately may give the referring good friend $10 to refer 100 pals. This method might get you much more potential leads.

When you persist with the outdated pay-when-they-sign-up mannequin, you could have to pay $10 for less than a single referral. With the pay-now mannequin, you possibly can compel the referring good friend to make 100 occasions as many referrals.

6. Supply Mail-in Rebates

Why do some retailers supply mail-in rebates? The concept is that for those who lower a coupon, scan your receipt, and mail them or add them to a web site, you would possibly get a test within the mail in 20-40 weeks.

Who even has time for that? Do retailers actually assume that they’re doing you a favor? In fact not. They’re utilizing hyperbolic discounting.

firestone 50 dollar rebate

Mail in rebates work for less than a choose few clients: the disciplined ones who by no means lose something and save their receipts. In different phrases, not many individuals.

Persons are probably to purchase the product now, considering that they would possibly get a reduction sooner or later. Extra probably than not, that mail in rebate kind will languish in a stack of papers till it expires. The retailer doesn’t need to pay something.


If you’d like higher conversion charges and sensible advertising and marketing energy, then this text was written with you in thoughts.

Are you able to harness the facility of hyperbolic discounting in your advertising and marketing methods? Let’s talk!

In regards to the Writer: Jeremy Smith is a conversion consultant and coach, serving to companies like Dow Chemical, American Categorical, Panera Bread, and Wendy’s enhance conversions and strategically develop their testing tradition and digital presence. Jeremy’s expertise because the CMO and CEO of know-how companies has given him a robust understanding of human habits and profit-boosting methods. Comply with him on Twitter.

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