Friday, September 19, 2014

Behaviour! Insights!

Learning from a Behavioural Insights Meetup

So behaviour change "science" is all the rage, right? Well yes — of course it is. I myself have written about Habit science, as well as the Art of Choosing, among other consumer behaviour-ey type posts. And hell, wouldn't YOU want to unlock the key to how your consumers make their decisions? Wouldn't you???

I did — I wanted that key.

Which is why I headed to this month's Behavioural Insights Meetup (yep... for free!) with excitement beating in my marketing heart. And now, the day after the event, though I do wish I'd snagged a few more pieces of fruit for my paper plate, I can confidently report that I got SOME of what I was looking for :)

Here's what I learned...

(1) Mental math happens, but it happens fast

Our first task of the night was to make a decision. Our very own consumer decision! If you arrive at a store to buy $15 headphones, but the salesperson tells you another store has them on sale for $5, would you drive 5 mins for the headphones on sale? Yes? Okay, what if the product was a $299 smartphone (on sale for $289 at the other location)? Then would you drive 5 mins? No?

This is an example of "mental math" (or "mental accounting"), which is when consumers must quickly measure the losses (leaving the store, driving 5 mins) against the gains (saving $10) when deciding what to do. In the case above, the total value of the product also affected that decision — saving $10 on $15 headphones seems well worth the effort, but $10 off $299 hardly seems worth driving elsewhere. Yet it's the same $10!

As marketers, we must help consumers do the quick mental math that results in the decision we want.

(2) What people say differs from what they do

This one's a no brainer, right? Everyone knows that consumer surveys and interviews usually result in half-truths (especially when they're trying to please the moderator or fellow respondents). But in the case study described by Dr. Nico Lacetera (a U of T professor), what people said they wouldn't do, compared to what they did, was the difference between life and death.

In Dr. Nico's studies on blood donation, the idea of providing incentives (gift cards, vouchers, etc.) to boost people's motivation to donate blood received negative feedback from consumer surveys and when consulting stakeholders (ie. the Red Cross). People just didn't like the idea of receiving something in return for donating blood — perhaps they felt less charitable. But, when put into practice in countries like Italy and the US, incentives WERE shown to motivate more blood donation, even in countries where donation isn't the norm.

Go figure! People DO like rewards. They just won't admit it ;)

(3) Context is good, empathy is better

Ruth Birman, a UX designer at Twist Image, gave us all a 'lil visual exercise in her presentation. First, she showed us a picture of a tablet (see below), but a generic one, without a background, a person, or anything particularly meaningful on screen. At most, it gives you a nice view of the tablet's design, which MIGHT be enough for you to click to learn more.

Then, Ruth showed us additional pictures of the same tablet (see below), this time with added detail, including a background (ie. an office, a desert, a living room) and a person using it (ie. a businessman, a hipster archaeologist, a kid). Not only did these images include context and a use-case scenario, they also had aspirational appeal — I wanted to BE that businessman! At the very least, they helped me visualize myself using and enjoying the tablet — enough to make me click to learn more.

So! If people can visualize themselves doing or experiencing something (donating to charity? Choosing a school? Buying track pants?), by seeing other (sometimes aspirational-looking) people do it, and by seeing it in context, they're more likely to do it. And better yet... they may already be thinking about doing it, too ;)

Overall, I had a great night. And while I may not have discovered the ENTIRE key to how people make decisions, I did unlock, hopefully, a small part of it.

For info on future Behavioural Insights Meetups, click here.
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