How to... respond to consumers' behavioural bias
Shelley Hoppe, Agency Director at Spoon London, examines the three behavioural biases that could be impacting consumer behaviour, and how brands should respond to them.
There's been a lot of talk about how lockdown is changing the world and affecting our behaviour.
But, now in our fifth week on lockdown in the UK, is the length of time we’ve been living like this affecting our reaction to it? It’s highly possible our responses to the crisis and, in turn, our behaviour, may be shifting into new territory.
We have a deep-seated need to feel in control, so a strict and long-term lockdown will be having a very adverse effect on some people.
So, how can we apply our understanding of this to brand messaging and creative? It's impossible to say how everyone will react, but here are three biases we at Spoon think might be strongly affecting some people's behaviours now, and how brands should be responding.
Above: Some in America have protested about the lockdown.
The Autonomy Bias
We have a deep-seated need to feel in control, so a strict and long-term lockdown will be having a very adverse effect on some people. We can see this manifesting itself in some of the protests around the world, with people taking to the streets and demanding to be "let back out", and bizarre conspiracy theories about why the lockdown is being enforced gaining notoriety and strength.
Too many options are likely to cause choice paralysis.
How to respond;
See if you can find ways to offer your customers multiple opportunities to make simple choices. This could be in simple ways, such as a choice of packaging or colours if you are selling products, or timings and channels if you are delivering a service. Anything to give the customer the power to decide things for themselves. But be careful - don't over-do it. Too many options are likely to cause choice paralysis. Remember also the limited choice bias, which shows that we're more likely to make choices when options are sensibly restricted and well-presented.
Above: Laughter is often the best consumer medicine.
The Humour Effect
We’re more motivated by – and also more likely to remember – things that make us laugh. Plus, after weeks of almost continuous messages with a very serious tone (and even some moments of panic), we could probably all use a bit of respite and a change of tack.
Studies show that thinking about the past often inspires us to spend more in the present.
How to respond;
Experiment with light-hearted messages and playful approaches in your messaging; obviously within reason and with caution, as it’s still a serious situation with some people suffering terrible losses and incredible strain on our essential workers.
Consider making use of a combination of humour and the nostalgia effect to recall the fun of happier times. Studies show that thinking about the past often inspires us to spend more in the present, so remind your customers of something they might remember fondly – and throw a bit of laughter in for good measure.
Above: Pret a Manger has given free drinks and discounts on food to NHS staff members since the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis.
We’re hardwired to want to return any kindness we feel we’ve received. This is a great time for brands to make a very emotional connection with customers as extra kindnesses may seem magnified by the fact that our lives have shrunk so much.
Extra kindnesses may seem magnified by the fact that our lives have shrunk so much.
How to respond;
Is there any way you could give a small gift to your customers, or waive a small fee - to thank them for their loyalty, or even just to show that you care? Could you send them something extra with their order, or even openly show support for the NHS or other key workers and explain that the support of your business allows you to offer support onward? If you could, it may go a long way to solidifying loyalty for a long time into the future.