Nudge theory has worked for government agencies and now brands are using this “science of persuasion” to encourage buying choices.
The UK’s Behavioural Insights Team (or nudge unit as it’s known) has been used by government agencies since 2010 – and with great effect. HMRC taps into peer group pressure when it sends out reminders, telling tax payers that most people in their area have already paid. This has boosted payments considerably. Brands have been watching this and other successful examples. Although brands have been using effective ways to encourage consumer purchasing for decades, there are things that nudge theory can teach marketers. For example, Ogilvy used it for a campaign for the borough of Greenwich to reduce street violence by putting posters of local babies on shop shutters. An 18% reduction in antisocial behaviour was recorded. Another example used by Magnum and Comfort brands amongst others is box tick techniques. To encourage people to share their online engagement with these brands on their own social media, it is more effective to have the “share this” box pre-ticked than left empty. For Magnum and Comfort it increased social sharing by 65% . Herd behaviour is another nudge strategy based on the human instinct to seek safety in numbers, another is aesthetics – humans are hard-wired to engage with attractive things.