Behavioural Science
Guide To Changing Consumer Behaviour

Alex Batchelor took to the stage at the World Marketing Congress in Mumbai to claim that he had spent over 20 years in marketing, trying to change human behaviour. He then admitted that most of the theory he had been taught hadn’t helped him at all, simply because it didn’t work. And the reason for that? It was based on the assumption that humans make rational decisions. Ba-bow.

Citing research by Daniel Kahneman (the only non-economist to win a Nobel Prize for Economics), the ‘Switch’ book by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, and ‘Happiness Hypothesis’ by Jonathan Haidt, Batchelor urged us to consider the metaphor of elephant and rider. When the elephant represents emotions and the rider represents rational thought, the lesson is that although the rider thinks they are in charge, there’s no stopping the elephant once it has made up its mind about where it wants to go.

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So how do you harness the power of human emotions to persuade people to make a decision in your favour? Batchelor offered these three tools as a way of changing human behaviour:

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Framing –we often define the value of our purchase by what we don’t purchase. As an example: Rolls Royce don’t sell many cars at car shows (where they are usually the most expensive), they sell most of them at plane and boat shows (where they appear to be very good value).

Copying – no one admits to being influenced by other people. They are lying. We all want to fit in. By way of example, all the secondary audio manufacturers switched to white headphones once the iPod started to explode in popularity.

Feeling – persuasion doesn’t work as well as seduction. Don’t try and make people remember facts, make them remember how they felt. Batchelor closed his presentation with a modern advertising classic, the P&G ‘Thank you mum” campaign that ignored product details and went straight for the heartstrings.

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