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Behavioral Science bliss at Nudgestock 2020

Two weeks ago I have been attending the largest behavioural gathering I have ever been to, Nudgestock Global. Ogilvy Consulting created a space where Business & Academia can learn from each other about Behavioural Science. It was fuelled by 15 hours of content, where speakers from Dan Ariely to Patrick Fagan (an ex-Cambridge Analytica scientist) shared their ideas and knowledge.

It was super interesting and intense as well. So if you didn't get the chance to follow this remarkable event, here are the top 3 most valuable learnings I got from 15 hours of Behavioural Science content:

1. "You don't do marketing to make money, you do it to learn" - Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman at Ogilvy UK

In the past, most businesses have focused on efficiency and cost-saving. In business, there is an overall tendency to undermine psychology biases and look rational & business-like.

But what nowadays successful businesses are focusing on more and more, is psychology. Because once you understand the real "why" of what people are doing, then you have something to build on and scale-up. As a business and as a brand you need to centre on those parts of the brain who can't speak. To be successful you need to find out: What is it that people really want?

Appeal to the parts of the brain that your competitors don't. When you find counter-intuitive consumer insights that your competitors don't know about, then you have a competitive advantage.

2. "Listening to the consumer is a bad idea" - Adam Ferrier, Consumer psychologist

If you talk to people about what their wishes are towards brands, you'll hear:

  1. Consumers want brands to be in and out of their minds
  2. Consumers are looking for efficiency
  3. Consumers want to purchase a category product, not the brand

If you follow consumers' wishes, your brand is not going to benefit from that. Not to mention the famous expression from David Ogilvy, which says: "Consumers don’t think how they feel. They don’t say what they think, and don’t do what they say".
So make sure that before you start gathering insights on your consumers you need to understand your brand first, what you stand for and only then listen to your customer. Otherwise, by following what your consumers say they want, your brand will be swept away.

When you focus on good consumer experience and there is a positive association with your brand, you are building brand experience (BX). A strong BX is what gives you a competitive advantage.

3. "We get out of this only if we help each other" - Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics, Duke University

Dan Ariely, the father of Behavioural Economics and author of Predictably Irrational, has been discussing the application of Behavioural Economics and Psychology for the benefits of the population and how we can use these heuristics to emerge from the COVID-19.

It seems that this corona crisis is having such a strong impact on people because of a cognitive bias called identifiable victim effect. The image of seeing someone suffering because we haven't done enough has a great impact. That's why so much has been done to fight COVID-19.

The thing is that this crisis has taught us that society is more fragile than we thought and has less resilience than expected. So to get out of this crisis there is a big need to collaborate, but that in Behavioural Science it's known to be a weak equilibrium. Some studies found that a group of people financially contribute to the benefit of the group only until some people stop contributing. That means that we all need to contribute.

So how are we going to help each other? Dan Ariely didn't have the answer for that yet but one thing is sure, we only get out of this if we do it all together.

Conclusion
As you can see Behavioural Science is very broad. The application of Behavioural Science goes from marketing to banking, to governmental policies, to health. Brands, as well as agencies, often are not much aware of how powerful Behavioural Science can be.
And now it’s the time for brands to step up their game and learn how to improve their marketing every day for the benefits of people, especially during these challenging times.