Why we do what we do

Way back in 2017, Richard Thaler won a Nobel prize for his pioneering work in the field of Behavioural Economics (BE). From there, BE has evolved and found its place in our Customer Experience world.

But what is it?
Why is it important?
How can we practically use it?

A few months ago, I shared my take on BE with the Bristol chapter of the DMA Copywriting Club. Now, I’m more fanboy than expert. I’m fascinated by how we can take its principles and learnings into creative work. And I love seeing examples of BE ‘nudges’ out in the wild. So rather than the theory, I’ll dive into a few IRL examples. Let’s start with one that’s very dear to my wallet: Monzo and their red hot coral bank cards.

The crowdfunded, fast-growing challenger bank makes it really easy for you to save – if you want to, that is. Whenever you make a purchase (that’s over £1) Monzo rounds up the amount to the nearest pound and automatically adds the difference to a saving pot called a Coin Jar. Using small change to make a small change – simple, smart, and as I can testify, easy to do. And that’s important. Brands that make it easy for you to do business with, win. Those who don’t, don’t.

How else can brands encourage people to do something over doing something else? Say, to buy their product over a competitor’s? It boils down to two things:

1. Providing a comparative context
2. Making the total buying effort easy

Let’s look at the first one.

1. Create a comparative context

Political shudder advertising does this far too well. A great way to position a brand and ally with your audience, is not to just stand for something but stand against something. Or, as Mark Ritson refers to it, find your nemesis.

Another tasty example of creating a comparative context is Nespresso. Because of their non-standard, distinctive coffee pods, they were able to change their comparison set. Rather than being seen to be up against other roast or ground coffee brands, they were comparing themselves – and their price – against the flat white you’d buy from your high street barista. So now (and Richard Shotton in The Choice Factory tells the story particularly well) your Nespresso pod costing 30-37p feels like a veritable bargain against your £3 Costa charge.

A few other examples? The AA and their ‘The 4th Emergency Service’ positioning. Tells you everything. And a cheeky, some might say below-the-belt example of comparative context:

Here at Bray Leino CX, we’ve done something ‘similar’ from a price perspective for our client INNOVO®. INNOVO® is the only non-invasive pelvic floor exerciser that treats the root cause of bladder weakness - a weak pelvic floor - rather than just managing the symptoms. The symptoms being bladder leaks. So, as the only product of its kind, its key competitors are pads. Therefore, on the site we’ve added a ‘pad calculator’, which allows you to see just how much you’re spending on ‘coping’ with a problem that INNOVO® can fix.