March 09, 2010

Changing Behavior

If you've read my semi-brilliant book The Ad Contrarian, (which you can download free here) you know that one thing I believe is that advertising is more productive when it's focused on changing behavior, not attitudes.

I recently read a very interesting piece by a smart ad guy named Rory Sutherland. The piece is about Behavioral Economics and how understanding human behavior can make us very much better at what we do.

I recommend that you get hold of the piece (it originally ran in Campaign in the UK several months ago and is available at the 4A's website if you're a member) and read it.  Here are some interesting excerpts from it:
People will work harder to avoid losing something than they will to gain it. It can be twice as painful to lose a dollar as it was enjoyable to acquire it in the first place.
I'll have what she’s having. People frequently simplify decisions by mimicking the actions of people around them and by adhering to social norms. In Australia, water consumption was cut dramatically by simply printing the average consumption figure for his street on an individual’s water bills

When items promise multiple benefits, they are less convincing than items that appear to do only one thing. Ever wondered why Google is so successful? At a time when everything else was a portal, a page trying to do many things, Google was a single-minded search engine.

The price that is demanded for something makes us value it more. People who paid more for the same over-the-counter pain relief products reported more effective pain relief despite price being the only variable.
 These excerpts are just a small part of the article.

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