Yeah, I’ve been nudged, you’ve been nudged, we’ve all been nudged.
Once, I bought travelers insurance because it was the default option at check out and didn’t bother to uncheck the little box before confirming the purchase. Never again.
The other day my daughter downloaded a “free app” that had an “auto renew” default detailed in the description that no one reads. If it says free, it must be free after all. Not this time. After the 24 hour trial period was over, $29.99 was deducted from my bank account for the first month. I wrote to the App Store to complain and they said that I need to read the descriptions and make sure to cancel the subscriptions on time. Now, Have you ever tried to cancel a subscription from an iPhone? Don’t get me wrong, it’s doable, but it’s tricky.
Companies are supposed to be making better decisions for us, and designing default options into their products to make our life’s better as well as guaranteeing that they are increasing profits. I have nothing against this process, I’m a marketer after all, and I understand the benefits behind nudging customers toward better choices.
What companies and we, as marketers, can’t forget is that we ought to make options easier to find when customers want to opt out of the default setting.
When I had my first job, I knew I had to put money away for my retirement. The company I worked for, offered a good 401k plan and matched your contributions up to 6% (if I remember well) Overall, the plan was very attractive, but I never enrolled. As explained by Ben Yagoda, in The Atlantic article “The Cognitive Biases Tricking Your Brain”, I was a victim of my own present bias, “which is the tendency people have, when considering a trade-off between two future moments, to more heavily weight the one closer to the present”. In other words, I was more concerned to have cash at hand, and didn’t envision “future me” ever needing money. After several years, I found another job and I was automatically enrolled in the retirement plan. This will be a default option that worked to my benefit. This time, the decision I had to make was not about enrolling but canceling, and I never got around to that either, so I saved year after year after year (the default option will automatically increment 1% every year).
But not all default options are as simple, and positive as that. Sometimes I want to read the credits after watching a movie in Netflix. I am very curious about the soundtracks of the movies, and those credits usually come at the very end of the scroll. I still haven’t had the patience to start exploring if there is an option to turn off the autoplay of the next trailer or program.
A DEFAULT SETTING THAT IS EATING ME ALIVE
But the default setting that’s been eating me alive for the past several years is the following: I don’t want Apple Music to start playing the first song in my iTunes library every time I plug the phone to the car. I’m not going to start arguing antitrust, Spotify vs Apple Music vs Google Play vs Amazon Music… I don’t really care. I love my iPhone, and I’m a heavy Spotify user, but every time I plug the phone to the USB in my car “Abril” by a Chilean Indie Rock band called Los Bunkers starts playing. Don’t get me wrong, I love Los Bunkers but I don’t want to hear the same song every time I jump into my car.
I also understand that it is Apple’s interest to launch Apple Music as default, so I’m not asking to launch another App but how about not running anything at all?. The only request I have is GIVE ME options. I need options. 4 years had passed until I discovered that I could randomize the songs, and play a different tune everyday. It wasn’t that hard, but I never got around to accessing the options to change the default, besides it wasn’t that obvious in the settings.
By now Apple Music’s algorithm has Data about me that is not significant. By now, they must believe that I’m a die hard fan of “Abril” by Los Bunkers. Not only that, by the time I discovered the randomization, my 3 year old daughter had already started singing and requesting the song randomly. Just like Apple, her internal “algorithm” must be telling her that I love that song, therefore she has been singing it for me.
My experience with Apple Music made me feel like I was trapped in the “Groundhog Day” script.
Now that my daughter sings “Abril”, I might play the song voluntarily, but I need to have the option not to.
It’s my option, and I need it now.
Groundhog Day Trailer
Los Bunkers – Abril