Marlin PR | Campaign Underground events: Magic & behavioural science (Pt.2 of 2)
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Campaign Underground events: Magic & behavioural science (Pt.2 of 2)

Campaign Underground_1

Campaign Underground events: Magic & behavioural science (Pt.2 of 2)

Jared Foley, account director

I thoroughly enjoyed Campaign magazine’s Underground event, as it brought behavioural science speakers and brand-makers together. There was some deep exploration of influence, and a few surprises too…

“Thinking is to humans as swimming is to cats” quoted one speaker from Campaign. What he meant was that making people think goes against the grain – people tend to move and act on instinct.

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It’s the age-old marketing problem of cognitive dissonance: How do you communicate a new idea when people feel an internal sense of conflict – even when it’s in their own best interest? One campaign from printer brand Epson showed this in fine style.

Epson discovered that to be indispensable you need to understand the audience. Despite knowing their own technology far outweighed the rival laser technique in terms of cost and environmental impact, how could they convince a public who’d been conditioned to prefer laser printers?

The answer came through overcoming the cognitive dissonance felt by consumers – ie. I want to help the environment… but I need to print lots of documents.

What they called the ‘The Behavioural Troika’ was used:

  1. Have a behavioural goal
  2. Explore everything (use the Four Vs of data to research everything to know about the audience)
  3. Test and learn – commit to this as well as the initial research, or the process isn’t sound and can’t adapt

By implementing a rigorous regime, they changed perceptions and boosted sales. By doing what had at first seemed impossible – tying a printer choice to the idea of minimising harm to the environment – and using behavioural science to overcome consumers’ bad habits and ingrained beliefs, Epson ultimately led consumers to more positive choices.

There are many barriers that stand between a consumer and the use of a service or product that might be beneficial to them. In a talk entitled The Body vs The Brain, it was shown how the physical effort of actually going into the supermarket trumps the mental effort needed for the 50-item online shop. When grocery is one of the least-penetrated online verticals, how can a brand like Ocado match the ease of understanding a real-world store layout? All was revealed…

Overcoming barriers is vital when seeking to shape behaviours. There are barriers to shopping online from the get-go, one major obstacle being that people like to touch the food they’ll buy. This is a bigger issue with online shopping than several real-world issues combined, like navigating the store plan or waiting in queues. And in the online world, many people also struggle to work out what to buy next.

It turns out that decision making is a response, subject to supply and demand laws. We like to invest decision making in pleasurable and important tasks. Decision making in grocery is trivial and the rewards are small (the difference in a type of cheese, for example), yet people obsess over them.

The physical store is a cognitive prompting machine. It’s designed so that consumers will be ‘inspired’ to buy, and only leave after buying something. But in the online world, simply working out what to buy for yourself next is an issue.

It’s important to make the solutions to barriers obvious, and to make the experience of overcoming them rewarding. Supermarkets can offer rewards for a consumer’s first shop, or when they download the app and sign up to the newsletter – these can all make overcoming barriers ‘worth it’.

Many businesses seek to take away risk in their communications, like the mattress companies offering a 100 day return policy. But Campaign’s event reminded me that life is complex, and asking people to put in any effort is difficult. Sell simplicity and clarity to consumers, and make it obvious how they can benefit.