Virtual reality tools that tap into consumer's social networks help them hold themselves accountable.

In one of our 10 Trends for 2011, Outsourcing Self-Control, we noted that more brands would help prevent consumers from acting on impulse. One way we’re seeing brands do this is by creating virtual accountability tools that tap into consumers’ social networks, using negative reinforcement and peer pressure to help people stick to their goals. One example is the Virtual Fridge Lock, created by JWT São Paulo for Meta Real, an “eating reeducation program.”

The lock, which users install on their fridge, combines the real and the virtual worlds. Whenever the fridge is opened late at night, the device notifies the dieter’s social networks, often resulting in a humiliating comment fest. It’s a tough love tactic that inverts the usual self-congratulatory posts (e.g., “Just crushed another run with Nike+ GPS”).