GreenBook Blog provides original insight into the challenges faced by the market research industry today.
Behavior change is inherently linked with material progress and innovation – but what happens when people behave in ways that are inconsistent with your business objectives? Today’s post by Helen McDonald and Mark Yeomans of Incite tackles this issue straight on gives some great examples of how researchers can become true change agents.
Behavior change is happening all around us; from user-friendly smart phones replacing “clunky” business phones, to coffee brands reframing quick refreshment into a rich, physical experience in dedicated shops. Put yourself in the shoes of a mobile phone manufacturer losing customers to a new iPhone – could you entice them to switch back, boosting sales and brand image in the process? It quickly becomes apparent that encouraging people to behave in a way that’s conducive to a business’ objectives is a complex task that should not be underestimated. A preliminary scan of behavioral economic principles reveals how people are naturally wired to resist change and less willing to give up something in order to gain a benefit through a new behavior. However, there is huge opportunity to unlock growth potential by creating a successful behavior change program. The following report acts as a guide to help navigate the behavior change journey, and explores the necessary components which will help companies understand and realize the business benefits of a well-executed program. When faced with a variety of behavioral sciences like social cognition, psychology, and neuroscience it is easy to become overwhelmed. The first question therefore involves applying a behavioral lens to our problem; what is it we want consumers to do? The market research industry excels at telling us how consumers are behaving, but where the industry sometimes falls down is explaining why consumers are behaving in this way. Disciplines such as behavioral economics help us to codify and understand behaviors that may seem irrational, but the key to success here is asking the right questions to arrive at a deeper level of behavioral interpretation. Finally, it is critical to identify the behavioral interventions that are most likely to result in change. Considering these three questions provides an ideal start point, and ultimately equips us for the next step which is to develop the change program itself. Contrary to the complex nature of behavior change for business, consumers seem to possess the ability to make it look simple.
Extensive knowledge on the change process is available from both academic disciplines and real world experience and these can be extremely useful to commercial marketers.
Many programs fail because they do not take into account that behavior change is a journey, not an overnight process. For example, before deodorants were widely used, the greatest barrier was not the absence of a good deodorant, but that people had no desire to use one and did not feel the need. There are distinct events that might initiate people into the change journey, and some of these moments are life-stage based. Marketers can either target the natural occurrence of events like pregnancy, or they can create inspiring “moments of truth” through different levers such as advertising, social media, and the retail environment to incite behavior change. Mitigation of losses: Consumers do not want to give up their old behavior because of the fear of loss. Self-efficacy: Consumers need to be confident that they have the skills to make the change. Human beings are not rational in their evaluation of alternative behaviors and Behavioral Economics has made a huge contribution by shedding light on this.
Behavioral Economics tells us that people strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains and this fear of loss can form a key barrier to behavior change.
Another common trait of human behavior is the tendency to stick to what is known and what is easy, even when the change is something that is desired. Human beings are often affected by what others do and it is important to understand the social context of any behavior change journey.
The choices we make are often influenced by our preference for instant gratification and default to options where “the prize is in sight,” valuing short-term benefits over long term gains. The choices we make can be deeply affected by the way that they are shown to us and it is possible to change behaviors by modifying the manner in which they are presented.
As a general rule, people act very differently when they are “in the moment” and the same is true for people moving along the change journey.
While a fashion fan, for instance, may not bat an eyelid at spending $150 on a t-shirt, they may be loath to part with $5 for a parking ticket. From learning theory to hobbies, practicing is vital to learning a new behavior and preventing relapse.
Segmenting consumers based on their barriers and drivers for change is crucial to a behavior change program. For a certain segment, the barrier might be a very emotional one, with the users identifying strongly with the brand.

Finally, behavior change programs need to include a variety of actions – communication, empowerment, diffusion, rewards, disincentives and environment design. After all the rigor and planning that goes into a behavior change program, it’s tempting to assume that the hard work is complete, allowing you to simply sit back and watch the interventions take effect. One of the central tenets of behavior change is that it’s impossible to predict human behavior. Behavioral Economists are strong proponents of this measurement technique which involves piloting an intervention amongst a small group of target consumers to measure its efficacy. A prominent example is the UK Government’s controversial “nudge unit,” who recently undertook a pilot study in partnership with Jobcentre Plus with the aim of getting people back to work. While this pilot scheme is a great example of how well-planned interventions can deliver real results, it can be argued that “testing and learning” approach still needs to broadened in order to truly demonstrate the worth of a particular intervention.
Measurement initiatives should not simply record the success of the intervention in promoting the desired end behavior, and merely conclude that “xx% of people began to demonstrate the desired behavior.” These initiatives should also take into account how successful interventions have been in prompting behaviors along the change journey. Take the change from “consideration” to “intention” for example – an intervention able to overcome intermediate barriers which lead to a desired behavior is arguably just as valuable as an intervention that leads to the behavior itself. While measuring the success of each intervention across a broad number of factors is essential, the evaluation needs to go beyond basic quantitative measures. This is where testing the biases and heuristics expected from consumers facing intervention comes into play.
There is huge opportunity to unlock commercial growth potential by creating a successful behavior change program, if companies can adopt the right approach. Consumers are programed to resist change and a multitude of emotional biases present a huge challenge to marketers trying to alter behavior.
It is essential to test for interventions resulting in the desired behaviors through pilot schemes before investing significantly and rolling them out. Helen Donald is an Associate at Incite, working across FMCG, financial services, consumer health and not-for-profit sectors. Mark Yeomans is a Director at Incite, working in the financial services and technology sectors, but who first came into contact with behavior change when working for a number of public sector bodies.
Contributors from both sides of the table share their expertise and offer unique perspectives on a wide variety of issues, both strategic and tactical. Ultimately that means that brands need to be able to trace the insights generated from the research process to changing consumer behavior. Alternatively, imagine a pharmaceutical company looking to influence patients; how easy is it to have people adhering to treatment regimens?
There is a plethora of facts, figures, case studies, jargon and theoretical frameworks which make it difficult to know where to begin, or how to customize the principles to real-life situations. Thinking about what consumers need to do in order for our objective to happen will ensure the big questions that underpin your insights clearly focus around this.
It is not enough to merely recognize the barriers to change; we need to reach the next level of insight in order to overcome these barriers to then create the change. Nicotine addiction and compulsive eating are well known examples of people giving up behaviors – something marketers can learn from in order to create a systematic program for change, rather than relying on chance. Synthesizing these lessons and adopting a pragmatic approach will help execute a change program successfully. Successful marketing involved activating that latent need for personal hygiene as a first step before the usage of the category became broadly prevalent.
In social marketing situations, the benefit is often obvious, like weight loss to become healthier. For instance, influencing Apple users to switch to an alternative brand might experience a lot of resistance from consumers concerned about losing all their music and videos on a new system. For instance, a barrier to switch to a new operating system may be the effort required to learn an entirely new system.
The likelihood of someone adopting a new behavior increases significantly when the social norm is in favor of that behavior. Acknowledging that these irrational quirks influence the way in which people respond to change is crucial. A prime example of loss aversion is a reluctance to switch mobile phone model for fear of the known functionality the consumer might lose in the process (even when the new model may provide significant benefits such as faster processing, lower cost, more apps, etc.).
The media and legislation may also play a role here with people often forming views of what is “acceptable” based on what they read, are told or are made to do. People attempting to give up smoking, for instance, may value the short term “benefits” of satisfying a craving vs. The influence of framing should be taken into consideration when seeking to change behaviors, and we need to understand the best way to present the choices to our target group for maximum effect.
A decision to cut down on caffeine, for instance, may be curtailed by the mere whiff of freshly ground coffee.

Enabling people to practice the behavior and providing support to help them carries significant influence in reinforcing the change. Yet, for another segment the barrier might be the perceived user-friendly design, meaning the interventions required for the two segments would be completely different. Programs focused on a single lens, for instance on communication, are less likely to succeed.
Unlike conventional research, once the program is launched to consumers, rather than ending, the behavior change journey moves to a new stage of engagement and response where further planning will be needed.
While a behavior change program brings us closer to devising interventions which prompt change, this simply cannot be 100% guaranteed. This involved six randomized, controlled trials the results of which were very promising; job seekers in the treatment group emerged as 15-20% more likely than those in the control group to be off benefits 13 weeks after signing on. This is especially poignant if the majority are stuck at the initial “consideration” stage. While the end goal for many may be to go running three times a week, the interventions employed to reach this point will not necessarily impact directly on this behavior – but they will contribute towards this final outcome. If we only track success in hard figures, we lose the opportunity to understand why particular interventions are working – or, more importantly – missing the mark. It is also important to ensure that interventions, while having a positive impact on behavior, do not have a negative impact on the consumers’ emotional well-being.
However, the task of encouraging people to behave in a way that’s conducive to a business’s objectives is not to be underestimated. But while there is an undoubted tendency to maintain the status quo, approaching behavior change in a strategic, end-to-end manner will ensure that these barriers can be overcome. Ensuring that the pilot schemes define success, not just in terms of superficial quantitative measures, but also through deeper, emotional diagnostics is also vital to the overall behavior change program. Helen has worked on behavior change studies for 5 years, initially working with leading behavioral economists on a study to improve financial capability among consumers. Having worked in consumer research for over 25 years he is a strong advocate of ensuring that all business challenges are examined from the perspective of the consumer and what it means for them in terms of changes they may have to take on board. So, it’s no accident that some supplier organizations (mainly those with a more consultative approach) are beginning to build practice areas around behavior change.
This will lead to better health outcomes, increased sales and less wastage, but how exactly is this executed? A smoking cessation campaign targeted at pregnant women is likely to be more successful because of a greater receptivity to becoming healthy. But commercial marketers must work harder to establish why using their products would enhance the consumers’ lives as the benefits may seem less consequential to consumers.
Conversely, it is very difficult to initiate a new behavior against the prevailing social norm. It is important to note, however, that these emotional biases not only present obstacles to change, they can also be used to encourage it. To counter-balance this tendency each stage of the behavior change journey must be made as easy as possible for the consumer to complete, with triggers communicated throughout.
This facet raises an interesting challenge for practitioners trying to influence change: how exactly do we ensure we retain a level of momentum when the state of mind varies wildly throughout the process? This may for example, translate into clear actions once a consumer considers a new behavior when buying a new product. Integrating multiple elements into a single campaign enables a much greater chance of success.
It is crucial to continue to push for deeper direction after the initial intervention and a test and learn approach is the only way to accurately measure progress. As a result of this apparent success, the interventions are now being rolled out across the region. By purchasing running shoes it enables people to go running, which ultimately sets an incentive to exercise that moves from the “consideration” to “intent” stage. The best way of doing this is through techniques such as observation, immersion and in-depth questioning, all of which go beyond the behaviors displayed to get to the heart of the emotional and less-rational motivators behind these behaviors. Helen strongly believes in the importance of de-mystifying behavior change, making the principles accessible to researchers and clients alike. It’s a shift that I believe is firmly underway and those firms that can point to helping brands harness information to produce desired changes in their target populations will prosper, while those who only report information or inform the insight process will move further down the value chain.
At this stage it is helpful to facilitate frequent product experiences in-store and provide proactive support provided by trained personnel.

Theme of the book the secret life of bees
Psychology the science of the mind and behaviour
Look within the secret is inside you

Comments to «How to change the world by»

  1. Tiziano_Ferro writes:
    Abrahamic traditions flowed igniting the faith at the present time of meditation this.
  2. HEYAT_BIR_YUXU writes:
    Consciousness had been mindfulness workout routines is usually a great living by way of both a proper meditation class.
  3. nigar writes:
    Offering meditation practice guidance and practical recommendations for.