jez groom

Today, more and more brands are realising that small changes really can make a big difference. At our recent festival of behavioural science, Nudgestock 3, innovative brands including Kleenex, News UK and Birmingham Midshires demonstrated that, by making one or two minor adjustments to their products, they could create huge changes in the way consumers behave.

Kleenex is a brand that has traditionally stood for caring and kindness. It wanted to challenge the notion that we live in a world of indifference. Kleenex asked: can we nudge people into helping their fellow man?

Its solution was to offer the public Kleenex sample packs divided by a perforated edge. One side said ‘Kleenex for you’ and the other said ‘Kleenex to share’. Members of the public were then secretly filmed as they were exposed to an actor sneezing and looking in their bag for tissues. Kleenex found that people given the share pack were more than twice as likely to offer the stranger a tissue compared with those who received a control pack.

Another standout behavioural science experiment comes from media agency Kinetic Worldwide, who recognised that while out-of-home advertising (OOH) is great at driving awareness, little research has been undertaken to see what effect it has on consumer behaviour. Kinetic Worldwide developed an experiment at Lakeside Shopping Centre to see if it was possible to use images of stickmen to drive footfall to quieter areas of the shopping centre. It created two different map posters; one showing an empty walkway and the other a walkway bustling with stickmen. Not only did the poster with the stickmen increase footfall 16% over a week, but the poster showing an empty walkway had a negative effect, reducing footfall by 4.9%!

These experiments show brands are starting to embrace behavioural science. Attributing scientific method to marketing communications is crucial in getting better at what we do. By identifying how consumers behave, you can apply a nudge here, a suggestion there, and create an incredible change in how people interact with your brand.

Jez Groom is group chief strategy officer Ogilvy & Mather Group UK