Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink

Behavioural Economics, Choice Architecture and the book "Nudge" are not just the current buzzwords in politics: many of advertising and marketing's leading lights are making it their mission to incorporate more of this thinking into our profession.

Rory Sutherland wrote a very good article on decision-making in Campaign a couple of weeks back on this theme. I'm not sure about whether I want to become a "Choice Architect" myself. Firstly, Choice Architecture suggests a structure to me and a structure suggests a PowerPoint presentation full of arrows and boxes and filters and funnels and the sorts of decision-making models that we are trying to get away from. And I don't really want the title on my business card.

But the basis of his article is spot-on. Why do we continue to ignore the evidence of our own minds and slip back into describing the decision process as a sort of "brand beauty pageant" when it comes to that creature quite unlike us, "the consumer"?

Rather than lining all our "consideration set" up and rating them, the decision process is far often more an iterative one, determined by context as much as by absolute measures of value.

Rory also points out the importance of "immediacy bias" - we are "disproportionally affected by the ease and attraction of the first step rather than the long-term consequence".

This is vital for those working in marketing - how can we make our first step even more attractive and easy? And for those in communication - perhaps we should focus on showing what makes our first step so easy and/or attractive rather than on relying on the appeal of the long-term benefit.

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