Voting Stickers = Genius Marketing: Reciprocity + Social Proof

November 6, 2012

Real quick, I had a thought (100% credit to Cialdini & Influence) at how genius these stickers are.

We all get out of our busy days and stand in line to do an activity that may or may not matter.

Then as we’re leaving, a cheerful person hands you a “i voted” sticker and tells you “thanks for voting.”

A lot of marketing happening here.


As small of a “gift” as a sticker is, it makes you feel better. It’s reciprocity.

Same tool used by hari krishnas back in the day at airports where they would forcefully hand plastic worthless flowers to people waking by because they found this exponentially increased their donations to them. (example from Influence).

In this case, we get a sticker and forget that we had to wait in a line.

It’s just like how they hand you small mints at banks now. Just to create reciprocity.

Social Proof

The reason you get a sticker rather than a mint is to develop social proof.

A mint you will eat and no one will know that you voted. With a sticker, many people will take pics of it and post online. Many will also stick it on their shirts proudly + put on their cars etc.

Humans like to show off and brag.

Social proofing is a super strong technique. Humans are hardwired to be interested in things they see many others doing.

Thus, when many people show off their voting stickers, the ones who didn’t vote will feel that pang of being out of the loop. Then they themselves will vote this year (if they remembered to register) or will be more likely to vote the next time around.

Whoever thought of this in our government is a marketing genius.