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Risk Marketing


  • Jérôme Boutang

    () (CITEPA - Centre Interprofessionnel Technique d'Etude des Pollutions Atmosphériques)

  • Michel de Lara

    () (CERMICS - Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Mathématiques et Calcul Scientifique - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech)


In a modern world increasingly perceived as uncertain, the mere purchase of a household cleaning product, or a seemingly harmless bottle of milk, conveys interrogations about potential hazards, from environmental to health impacts. The main purpose of this article is to suggest that risk could be considered as one of the major dimensions of choice for a wide range of concerns and markets, alongside aspiration/satisfaction, and tackled efficiently by mobilizing the recent findings of cognitive sciences, neurosciences and evolutionary psychology. We feel that consumer research could benefit more widely from psychological and evolutionary-grounded risk theories. We have examined some fifty years of marketing management literature, as well as risk specialized literature, in an attempt to get a grasp of how risk is handled by consumer sciences and of whether or not they make some use of the most recent academic works on mental biases, non mainstream decision-making processes, or evolutionary roots of behavior. We have then tested and formulated several hypothesis regarding risk profiles and preferences in the domain of insurance, by participating to an Axa Research Fund--Paris School of Economics research project. We suggest that consumer profiles could be enriched by risk-taking attitudes, that risk could be part of the 'reason why' of brand positioning, and that brand as well as public policy communication could benefit from a targeted use of risk perception biases. We propose to apply evolutionary based psychological concepts to build perceptual maps describing people and consumers on both aspiration and risk attitude axis, and to design communication tools according to psychological research on message framing and biases. Such an approach mobilizes not only the recent findings of cognitive sciences and neurosciences, but the understanding of the roots of risk attitudes and perception. Those maps and framing could probably be applied to many sectors, markets and public issues, from commodities to personal products and services (food, luxury goods, electronics, financial products, tourism, design or insurance).

Suggested Citation

  • Jérôme Boutang & Michel de Lara, 2016. "Risk Marketing," Working Papers hal-01353821, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-01353821
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    communication; bias; risk; attitude; positioning; perceptual map; perception; framing; questionnaire; promise;

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