Read on! The promo Chaitanya mentions after the jump is especially brilliant.
Influencing Human Behavior.
At a fundamental level, that’s what Marketing is all about. Think of any marketing activity - right from the branding that you see, the product/packaging/experience (UI) design, the TV commercials, print ads, digital ads, promotions/offers - everything is essentially an effort to change our behavior in a very specific way. Given this, marketing is intricately connected to a number of other ‘behavioral disciplines’ like Behavioral Economics, Psychology, Anthropology, Neuroscience, Praxeology, Cognitive Science etc, and each year a number of research papers are published based on the intersection of one or more of these disciplines with marketing.
One such seminal research paper was recently published by Dr. BJ Fogg, (Stanford University), titled: A Behavior Model for Persuasive Design. Here he posits a simple model by name FBM (Fogg Behavior Model) that delineates 3 factors affecting human behavior: Motivation, Ability and Presence of Triggers.
(Image source: Paper by Dr. BJ Fogg)
In summary, it says, for any behavior ‘change’ (B) to occur, it needs to get the user to an activation threshold, which is a factor of:
- Motivation: (M) Is the person high or low on motivation to perform the target behavior?
- Ability: (A) Does the person have the requisite ability to perform the behavior (is it simple enough to be performed)?
- Triggers: (T) Does it have the necessary triggers to instigate the target behavior?
While motivation and ability can ‘trade off’ (People with low motivation may perform a behavior if the behavior is simple enough (meaning, high on ability), and inversely, people who find a behavior being not so simple (meaning, low on ability) may perform it if they have sufficiently high levels of motivation), triggers can happen only when they are ‘timed’ - i.e. they need to be triggered right at the moment when we have the requisite levels of motivation and ability to perform a behavior. Hence it could be instructive to qualitatively think of this relationship as:
B = m.a.t (at the same moment)
(Image source: BehaviorModel.Org)
While he champions this model as a framework to guide persuasive design of web services, online interaction design etc I believe that it is equally if not more applicable to more traditional instances of product marketing / brick and mortar retailing etc.
I was reading this great book, and I found out something which may be useful for economists: that moment when you make a decision among close alternatives, is purely emotional. This is what the book has to say:
It’s purely emotional, the moment you pick. People with brain damage to their emotional centers who have been rendered into Spock-like beings of pure logic find it impossible to decide things as simple as which brand of cereal to buy. They stand transfixed in the aisle, contemplating every element of their potential decision—the calories, the shapes, the net weight—everything. They can’t pick because they have no emotional connection to anything.
This is why companies are now starting to limit the variety in their product lines (the consummate example being Apple, of course), because it makes it easier to make an emotional connection and create post-hoc rationalizations about your choice. It may seem a little manipulative but this decision-making heuristic makes our lives easier; one just has to realize their cognitive biases.
It’s quite in line with the bounded rationality of behavioral economics; that people make choices rationally but only up to the extent of what they know and how they think. If this interests you, Predictably Irrational and other books by Ariely are great reads.
I read Predictably Irrational a few years ago, but three years into my advertising coursework, the book would be worth another read through a more critical eye!
Research on the so-called Zero Moment of Truth—the moment when a shopper goes online to research a product and decides whether to make a purchase—suggests consumers often make purchase decisions in-store, as they read peer-to-peer reviews on their smartphones. I wonder if emotional consumer reviews are more persuasive than more matter-of-fact or features-driven reviews. How do reviews, which so many shoppers rely on, facilitate an emotional connection, anyway, if they can at all?