Marketers know that brand awareness alone doesn’t necessarily influence change in customer behaviour. Simply having your brand front of mind for consumers doesn’t result in purchasing outcomes.
Brands need to speak to consumers on a deeper, emotive level to instil some form of influence on their purchasing decisions.
Research from Tali Sharot, an associate professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London, argues that there are “three principles that we know drive your mind and your behaviour”.
Her research focuses on how emotion, motivation, and social factors influence our expectations, decisions, and memories. Let’s take a closer look at how her research can provide actionable learnings for today’s marketers.
Influencing Customers – A Behavioural Psychology Learning
1. Social Incentives
We are social people, and generally we’re interested in what other people are doing. As Tali Sharot explains, “we want to do the same as others and we want to do it better”.
The UK’s tax department (HR Revenue and Customs) made experiments in this area with letters to residents that had not paid their taxes on time, reminding them to do so. The change in the standard letter was an additional sentence; “nine out of ten people in Britain pay their taxes on time.”
This one sentence resulted in enhanced compliance by 15% and drove hundreds of millions of additional pounds in the first 12 months. The most effective messages were ones that made even more specific references to resident’s locations and debt amount.
So, for marketers, highlighting to your existing customers what other customers are achieving with your brand can form a very strong incentive. This could be leveraged by creating customer stories and comparisons to other customers in a similar demographic. Water and electricity companies leverage this tactic by showing us our usage compared to other similar households in our area.
2. Immediate Rewards
“We value immediate rewards that we can get now, more than what we can get in the future”.
Tali explains that we need instant gratification and makes an important consideration for marketers: what if we reward people (customers) now for doing actions that are good for them in the future?
For marketers, associating your key customer objectives with instant rewards can influence customer behaviour and ultimately increase important metrics.
Examples of behaviour brands may want to instantly reward could include completing data captures, consuming content, engaging with your brand on new channels and more simply re-purchases.
Studies show that providing this sort of instant gratification makes people more likely to start exercising and quit smoking for long periods of time. This change of behaviour as Tali explains becomes “associated with a reward, and it becomes a habit, it becomes a lifestyle”.
3. Progress Monitoring
The brain does a better job of processing positive information about the future than it does with negative information.
This means that if we want to get people’s attention, we should highlight the progress, not the decline. This is not considered in a lot of smoking warnings where studies have shown that these warnings have limited impact on behaviour.
For marketers, this tactic has become easier to implement with improved access to customer data and personalisation capabilities in customer engagements. We can now serve customers with personalised progress monitoring across a range of industries.
Some examples here include onboarding progress visualisations for brands with lengthy applications, usage levels for gas and electricity companies and even VIP tier progress within Rewards Programs.
Focusing on the progress, the advancement made by the customer can be a strong influencer on customer behaviour.
Where to from here?
Marketers need to go deeper into behavioural psychology learnings if they are to create exceptional outcomes with consumers. Leveraging these three principles can allow marketers to connect with consumers on a deeper level.
Staying connected to consumer psychology has and always will be key for marketers.