Game Changers and the Power of Persuasion

‘The Game Changers’ is a recent Netflix documentary that’s turning committed carnivores into vegans in one sitting. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know it’s powerfully persuasive stuff.

From a marketer’s perspective it’s well worth a look – if only to see how it’s so effective at making the case for a plant-based diet.

But be warned. You may never look at a burger the same way again.

The persuasive impact of this documentary has got us thinking – how many brands out there would want to wield this power to move minds to their way of thinking?

It prompted us to revisit two great books from Professor Robert Cialdini – ‘Influence: The psychology of persuasion’ and ‘Pre-suasion: A revolutionary way to influence and persuade.’

The psychology of persuasion

Here, Cialdini describes and discusses his six ‘Principles of influence’ and how together they can boost your powers of persuasion.

  1. Liking – Being liked is number one. People buy from people they like. Give customers a chance to get to know you and build rapport.
  2. Reciprocity – Give a little. Even if it’s just useful information, customers will often reciprocate a kind act by buying your brand. Plus, it helps you to be liked.
  3. Commitment/consistency – Demonstrate a consistent set of values, personality and brand cues that resonate with your customers.
  4. Social proof/unity – Show how other people love your brand and create a sense of belonging.
  5. Authority – Does your brand convey a sense of trust and confidence? Who do your customers trust and who would they be inspired by?
  6. Scarcity – Knowing that your stuff is in short supply, limited edition or is only available as a last-minute bargain, can finally close the deal.


In his second book on this topic Cialdini makes a number of key points about the idea that effective persuasion often starts well before the sell. If, like us, you’re fascinated by the subject of Behavioural Economics you’ll be familiar with many of these concepts.

Anchoring – If you first set an anchor price for a good bottle of wine at £25, a bottle costing £15 seems like great value. Your branding is also an anchor.

Priming – Playing French music in a wine shop will increase the sales of French wine.

Framing – How you ask a question can influence the answer. 50% more people will complete a survey if you first ask them if they are a helpful person.

Grabbing attention:
People place more importance on things that really grab their attention.
– Sex, Danger, Difference, Unexpected. These are underlying human drivers of attention. But only useful if they’re relevant to your product.

Holding attention:
You need to hold attention to complete the deal.
– About you, Mysterious, Unfinished. People respond to stories in which they can see themselves, set up questions that need solving and end with a compelling cliffhanger…

Changing the game

Watch The Game Changers on Netflix – it may give you a few ideas about upping your game for how you can influence customer thinking. And while you’re merrily munching a plate of lentils, marvel at how it ticks every Cialdini box.

But more than that, it does that other behavioural trick of reframing the problem that needs solving. The traditional arguments for eating green are largely replaced by a whole new set of much more persuasive ones.

Influence: The psychology of persuasion
Pre-suasion: A revolutionary way to influence and persuade
Professor Robert Cialdini

The Game Changers
A Netflix Documentary
Produced by James Cameron