Behavioural nudges are a really exciting – and powerful – tool for brands and marketers. And the brilliant thing about them is the use of them in our industry is still in its infancy, which makes for huge opportunity for the brands who act now! A hugely important area, the concept of Nudges was first developed by Richard Thaler (who went on to win a Nobel Prize for his work), and later taken up by both the Obama and Cameron governments with the creation of Nudge Units.
Nudges tap into the psychological fact that we have two ways of thinking – fast and slow (as popularised in the brilliant “Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow” by Daniel Kahneman).
One is intuitive, immediate and almost ‘without thinking’ – eg. recognising your best friend or adding 10+10. The other is slower, more logical and involves critical thinking – eg. deciding where to invest money or doing 23*37=? System 1 thoughts make our life easier.
Nudges leverage System 1, the subconscious, which relies on our cognitive biases. And that’s why nudges work – because they make life easier. They don’t force people to do something. Which as marketers, is ultimately what we try to do every single day – get people to act (buy something, do something, sign up for something) without forcing them to do it.
Nudges are small, but they can have a big impact on conversions, sign-ups, revenue, and customer loyalty. But they’re also not always easy to get right.
There’s so many nudges to choose from – from social proof and salience to anchoring and loss aversion – and each one serves a different purpose.
In knowing which to use, it’s critical to first understand the underlying business objective (Is it to get more people to buy more? Or to get some people to buy more expensive things? Or to simply build brand salience?) and then identify the underlying customer, brand or contextual tension that is preventing this from happening. Then – with decent customer understanding, approach the problem with a good understanding of what nudges are out there and how they work.
Whether it’s small tweaks to wording on regular comms, through to a whole rethink of how to reach your customers – nudges can be a brilliant way to approach things differently, cut through and make an impact.