Monday, June 25, 2012

Being a devil: Influencing your buyer's willpower

We are really good at tricking ourselves into acts of indulgence.

Take a study by Chandon and Wansink (2007) for instance that found that when people visit a 'healthy' restaurant, they tend to underestimate the calories they are consuming.  In effect, the restaurant's healthy 'halo effect' mucks with our ability to assess our behaviour.

And similarly, a study by Wilcox, Vallen, Block and Fitzsimmons (2009) that found that the mere presence of healthy items increased the likelihood of an indulgent item being selected.  In other words, we trick ourselves into thinking we have done the right thing by our mental calorie account through merely considering the healthy item and as a reward, select the indulgence.  McDonalds seem to be playing on this through their healthier options, luring us with salads and wraps but then bombarding us with burgers and fries once there.

As the researchers write 
"Results demonstrate that individuals are, ironically, more likely to make indulgent food choices when a healthy item is available compared to when it is not available... Presence vicariously fulfils nutrition related goals and provides consumers with license to indulge".
What do these studies mean?  Context is crucial and can lower our rational defences.  And as a business, you can and should influence that context.

Business implications
For businesses there are some opportunities to consider;
  • If you are marketing healthy options, you need to contextualise your product.  Presenting salads amongst pies and sausage rolls may not be as successful as segmenting healthy and less healthy choices.  
  • If you are marketing indulgent options, consider the role healthy products can play in stimulating choices in your favour.  Desserts tucked in amongst fruit and vegetables might be worth pursuing.  
And for businesses not involved in food, the lesson of context still holds. Do they see your product as an indulgence or a necessity?  Help them feel like they've earned a reward to promote purchase of indulgences and if your product is more utilitarian in nature, try keeping it clear of distracting 'goodies'.

PS Why not join the People Patterns mailing list?  Every month you'll receive a short wrap-up of top news from the behavioural sciences and other nuggets of goodness from me. Click here to sign-up.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting buyers to buy more often

Getting your buyers to buy more often by helping them know they need to is something every business should be doing.  Relying on your customers to design their own re-purchase cycle is leaving yourself open to forgetfulness, delay or worst still, substitution.

Here are three things you should consider implementing.

1. Build in cues of product redundancy
If you have a perishable product, most of your work will be taken care of by nature and health standards.  "Use By" and "Best Before" dates are examples of cues that are designed to protect the health of the consumer.

But what if your product's life cycle is not so obvious?

Take your pillow for example.  Every night you rest your head on a pillow you purchased maybe years ago, never thinking that it too has a useful life.  Not a great re-purchase model for pillow manufacturers.  Enter Tontine and their ingenious date-stamped pillow that reminds the customer that the pillow should be changed every two years, and serves as a cue every time the pillow case is removed.  Suddenly after the pillow's "expiry" you are not sleeping so well, worried about what pillow gremlins have been unleashed in the depths of the night.  For Tontine, whether people buy a new pillow immediately or just sooner than never, they have created a sense of product redundancy and improved their chances of repeat purchase.

So the question for you is whether your product has a life cycle, real or perceived, that you can highlight to your customers?

2. Activate re-purchase by providing a cue
Smart manufacturers give their consumers advanced warning of the need to take action. Examples include;
  • Tissues that change grade and colour as you near the bottom. You know when your white tissue turns pink and scratchy that the good times are over.
  • Rolls of cling wrap that include a reminder sticker to buy more when you near the end of the reel
  • Car dashboards that signal when your service is due
And here is an interesting idea for food.  A recent study into self-control saw chips coloured red with food dye inserted at intervals in the Pringles-like packet. Whilst the objective of the study was to interrupt over-eating patterns, it shows that there are ways to include cues without interfering with the quality of the food.  

The lesson here is that you can help your customer avoid running out of your product by providing them explicit cues.

3. Make the cue transportable
It's great that you have created a need to re-purchase through redundancy and triggered the need to re-purchase, but there's still a long way to go between home and the cash register.  You need to help your buyer be reminded to buy your product in the context of purchase.

For example, ever had the experience of being out and enjoying a bottle of wine so much that you sometime later look for it in the bottle shop?  If only you can remember what it was called! Clever wine makers have closed this gap by providing a transportable cue in the form of a perforated, take-away tag on the wine label so that the customer can rip it off and keep it handy for their bottle shop hunt.

QR codes can likewise be used to close the gap between product use and repurchase...if only anyone used them.   But code scanning technology aside, mobile phones are definitely the key linkage between home and the retailer because they are with your customer in most contexts and used as a source of information and reminder.

The question you should be asking yourself here is how are you physically helping to remind your buyer to buy your product?

Repeat purchase is something that businesses hope for but often don't invest enough time and thought into.  Challenge yourself to look at how you can cue the need for re-purchase and you might be pleasantly surprised at the influence you can have over your buyer's cycle.

PS Why not join the People Patterns mailing list?  Every month you'll receive a short wrap-up of top news from the behavioural sciences and other nuggets of goodness from me. Click here to sign-up.

Best before image:
Tontine pillow:
Wine label:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Behavioural Economics Twitter Highlights 9 June - 15 June 2012

Sat 9 June - Fri 15 June 2012

Posted by Bri Williams @peoplepatterns, this post contains a summary of tweets noted in the past week that mentioned behavioural/behavioral economics. Where possible, re-tweets and tweets without links been removed to condense the list.

Please note due to other commitments this will be the final Twitter wrap from me. However for those who want to get a short & sharp update every month on the top insights in behavioural economics, simply up here for my newsletter...joining takes only a few seconds.  Enjoy!

Tweets with Behavioural Economics (UK spelling)

Fascinating talk on Behavioural Economics with and Professor Daniel Kahneman  
Role 'of behavioural economics as a cheap accompaniment or alternative to traditional policy' | new report 
Last year's awesome  Keynote from Rory Sutherland on applying Behavioural Economics to Affiliate Marketing -
Optimize Your Conversion With Insights From BehaviouralEconomics  via 

Learn  & behavioural economics and what it means for business in a fun one day workshop on 17 Sept 
Bette Golebiowski liked Dark Patterns for Marketers, or: PracticalBehavioural Economics: Taking a systematic…
The secret to business success? 5% technology and 95% psychology |   | Bri@peoplepatterns
 great video on the  about this, always use when doing behavioural and nudge economics
Making dough from the right behaviour 
  Behavioural Economics and EU Competition Law: Knocking on Open Doors? The Case of Art. 102 TFEU Interesting,
Can behavioural economics make us healthier? | BMJ
There are no rules for engagement, just like war has no script.Economics remains a behavioural  RT ...
My blog: Should  focus on C2C rather than B2C? Behavioural Economics   
 1st link @ the top. Friends of yours or just random coincidence? 
Our Behavioural Economics Seminar with the Canadian Marketing Association is now live. We are excited to have an audi…
Magnificently insightful & charismatic talk on persuasion /behavioural economics / decision making by 
Daniel Kahneman (father of behavioural economics) interviewed on ABC's . [JP] 
Currently reading 'Behavioural economics: Seven principles for policy makers' by  
What is behavioural economics? 
Mind-map displaying the 8 Principles of Behavioural Economics:
behavioural economics: Anchoring in Asia
Behavioural Economics: The chocolate machine that improves (?) willpower 
Behavioural economics: The potential for social persuasion, Facebook and organ donation 
Behavioural economics: Highly effective (IMO) ad about wearing a seat belt 
Added to art/music with behavioural economics theme, third movement of Steve Reich's Desert Music
Neve reading a classic Behavioural Economics text (not set-up :))
Behavioural Economics for Marketing  via
Tugging on the  heartstrings: effective ways for charities to motivate people into giving  
's Sloan: But using insight from behavioural economics, let customers compare energy use to neighbours to drive behaviour
Absolute beginners: behavioural economics and human happiness
 v behavioural . Bad hair, fashion, , no, you get the picture. Over to Leigh 
RT : Behavioural economics: the Kylie Minogue of market research    
jonah lehrer in the new yorker on the behavioral economics behind wine: 
Behavioral economics has a new testing ground: the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics in Nairobi, Kenya.
BSSR lecture Series: Behavioral Economics, Classical Economics, Public Policy, Politics, and Health 
Event TODAY  & : how to square consumer protections with insights from behavioral economics?
Beyond reminders and incentives, adherence requires that consumers place a high value on their prescriptions
Thx for snapping! RT : Behavioral economics in a subway station in Barcelona 
  Behavioral Economics And Economic Man Essay 
Hayek and Behavioral Economics 
James Surowiecki: Greece, the euro, and behavioral economics. via 
 Behavioral economics and barriers to patient engagement
Behavioral Economics & Joseph Schumpeter Lectures 2001: Psychological foundations of incentives Ernst Fehr, Armin Falk
Also see our paper “Health Insurance Coverage and Take-Up: Lessons from Behavioral Economics” 
Fantastic summary of a complex topic. Financial Services&Behavioral Economics: Busting The Myth Of Consumer Rationality 
FYI for our EMS college-bound 08's: "It's a law of behavioraleconomics that people miss only tangi
Behavioral economics important to driving success 
Behavioral economists have uncovered strong evidence that rational decision making is often an illusion 
President Doug Ghertner discusses the role of behavioraleconomics and transparency in benefits strategy in...
"Behavioral Economics in ..." post by  Great recap!  &
Rational choice theory is outdated. Behavioral economics is the wave of the future. Case in point: 
Some challenges with directive approaches to . People make decisions when a problem arises not due to the risks
BSSR lecture Series: Behavioral Economics, Classical Economics, Public Policy, Politics, and Health 
Clockwork Orange as an original critique of behavioral economics. . . via 
RT  Nudge blog · Where is behavioraleconomics headed in the world of marketing? - 
Learn how behavioral economics can help develop your P-O-P messaging strategy at our next I-Seminar, 6/28. Details:
Behavioral Economics Key To Success In Medication Adherence Solutions.   
  investigates the potential for  to transform   
A very incomplete summary of day 1: Behavioral economics at 
[New Post] Behavioral Economics, Bloomberg and Fat Loss
Marketers are masters of Behavioral Economics >> Are We a Society of Cell Phone Suckers?  (via)
Behavioral Economics, Marketing, Loyalty and the Customer Experience  via 
Behavioral economics and pre-paid phones. A rare case for paying the costs upfront 
List of Most Common Behavioral Economics Obstacles | Bounded Rationality and Beyond 
Reading "toward a positive theory of consumer choice" - Thaler (1978), primary thought leader on behavioral economics
"what is the difference between behavioral economics and i/o psychology?" 
Survey: we need a nudge of behavioral economics to crack this energy problem (peak at neighbors?)  as does
Great idea from AllEarth Renewables.. Understanding thebehavioral economics here is powerful-policymakers take note.
“The Power of Suggestion  "
Ingenious app helps you impulse _save_  Making the most of a hot zone  #behavioral#economics  
Tugging on the  heartstrings: effective ways for charities to motivate people into giving  
☞ The Sidebar: A Flood of Fossil Fuel and the BehavioralEconomics of Soda Bans 
Behavioral biases at work. Facebook IPO Meets BehavioralEconomics