Sep 30, 2020
Putting the science into marketing: How behavioural and marketing science helps combat biases
An overview of our webinar with Richard Chataway.
Understandably, we love anything to do with behavioural science. It’s the driving force behind Kanjo. So we were thrilled to host a webinar with Richard Chataway, one of the UK’s most experienced behavioural science practitioners.
During the hour-long chat with Andy Milsom, our CEO and founder, we uncovered some great insights on the subject to help brands and marketers improve the effectiveness of their communications, which are featured in this overview. You can also watch the video of the webinar below.
The power behavioural science can have on your marketing
Behavioural science and marketing are a natural fit. Behavioural science is all about understanding how humans make decisions. And the goal of marketing is to influence behaviour — predominantly getting people to buy products and services. Sure, marketing isn’t just about sales, but that’s for another day.
For your marketing to be effective, a solid understanding of human behaviour is key. Fortunately, knowledge of human behaviour has come a long way in the last 50 years.
Understanding the two systems that could help your brand be number 1
Humans have two fundamental decision-making processes: fast (system one) and slow (system two).
System one decisions are intuitive, instinctive and emotional. Think of your commute to work, you just switch to autopilot and act almost without thinking.
System two decisions are far more considered and thoughtful. Instead of your commute, imagine you’re driving somewhere new. You’re more alert, looking for signs and continuously checking the sat nav.
The thing is, 85–90% of your decisions are system one. That’s because you live in a complex, busy world. There’s so much choice all around you, you have to react quickly. You don’t have three hours to spare weighing up the pros and cons of two shampoo brands.
That’s why emotional drivers and the need to gain attention fast are so important in your marketing and advertising.
Using ‘heuristics’ to improve your statistics
Because you make thousands of decisions every day, from what time to get up to which pyjamas to wear to bed, you create mental shortcuts. These are known as ‘heuristics’ and make the decision-making process quicker and easier.
It’s no different when you pick brands. Especially as there is so much choice and people are so time poor. On average, 75% of people spend just two seconds looking at a print ad.
You need to grab attention fast and use emotional drivers to influence behaviour. Loss aversion (or FOMO — Fear Of Missing Out, as it’s more commonly known) is one such driver. People (even monkeys) hate to miss out. It’s hardwired into our brains. That’s why ‘closing down sales’ and lines like ‘only three tickets left’ can quickly prompt us into action.
You should think of your brand as a heuristic. Developing mental shortcuts in your brand identity — such as a strong graphic devices, soundbites, colours, and unique typefaces — ensure that your brand is front of mind when a consumer is making a purchase decision. This is also referred to as mental availability.
With so much competition — what can you do to make the purchase decision of your product/service as simple and fast as possible for people?
How a trip down under put heuristics top of mind
Australia has a lot in common with the UK. We speak the same language and share a cultural history for a start. They also have some affectionate nicknames for us Brits, like Poms and Limeys. But when Richard moved to Oz and visited a supermarket, it was like he walked into a shop on another planet.
There were hundreds of brands he didn’t recognise. He had little idea what was a high-end or a value brand. And Richard didn’t even know if he was buying sugar or salt.
The foreign supermarket problem further highlights the importance of brands using heuristics. Aldi overcame this issue by utilising heuristics from known brands to leverage consumer confidence in their own products.
Cracking mental availability is nothing if you don’t have physical availability
The easier your brand can be brought to mind, the more likely it is to be bought. That’s because people only use a certain amount of mental availability to remember things.
The fear of flying is a great example. Loads of people have this compared to those that are scared of driving. Yet you’re far more likely to die in a car crash. But plane crashes are big headline news and more memorable. Hence why flying is the bigger fear.
To compete with other brands, you need to embed super strong associations with your brand into people’s memory, so at the point of purchase you’re the front runner.
Depending on your category, this could be producing cut-through creative or reinforcing good quality. Take insurance for example. It’s not particularly interesting, so how do you make your brand more memorable? Using meerkats or a larger than life Welsh opera singer are a couple of left field examples that have utilised heuristics to create memorability.
You also need to continuously push these memorable cues to reinforce them. And more importantly, have your brand mentally available when consumers are in purchasing mode — be it online or in a physical store.
Richard referenced an Aussie DIY brand. They offered a huge product range, so their stores were massive, which meant they had to be built way out of town. They launched an equally large discount campaign to drive sales, but because people had to drive for miles, the discounts weren’t enough of a motivator to make the long trip. The lack of physical availability meant the campaign flopped.
People do not care about brands as much as you think
If you work in marketing and advertising, you probably obsess over brands. Always thinking about what differentiates them — what makes them special. The trouble is, consumers rarely think like you do.
You think about your brand’s products/services in a system two way (thoughtful and considered), but the people you’re targeting are making fast, emotional decisions (system one).
Richard suggests every marketing department or advertising agency should have a giant sign up in the office saying: “You are not the target audience”.
Changing your approach to be more system one focussed, targeting subconscious thinking, will improve the effectiveness of your communications.
Don’t throw the baby out of the bath water
Richard also offered some great advice to advertising agencies with new client wins. All too often you want to make your own creative mark and win a shiny award by doing something different to the brand. But you risk losing all the strong consistencies and associations (heuristics) the brand has built up over the years.
Tropicana is a great example. The iconic straw in an orange branding got changed and sales plummeted.
Instead, you should recognise the brand’s strengths and capitalise on those with creativity, even if that means just making subtle tweaks/improvements at the start.
Assessing and measuring emotional connections with brands
Focus groups and quantitative research still have their place in marketing. But what people say and what they do is often different. Not because they are lying or being dishonest, it often happens on a subconscious level.
Using tools that subconsciously measure reactions to brands can be more accurate, such as Kanjo to measure emotional engagement or recreating retail environments to track behaviours and responses.
Using focus groups alongside these other tools to test creativity can also prove useful. Especially if there’s a contrast in results. Identifying these differences can further help you understand what motivates your audience and what will be effective.
More Kanjo webinars to come
Hopefully you’ve taken a lot from our ‘Putting the science into marketing’ webinar with Richard Chataway. The good news is, there are more webinars in the pipeline. Sign-up to our newsletter and you’ll be one of the first to know about them.