Richard Shotten’s book, The Choice Factory, is the current talk of the ad world and we were lucky enough to hear from the man himself this week at his Belfast appearance.
He took us through some thought-provoking behavioural beliefs – or biases – that unconsciously influence our decisions and showed them being used in real-life campaigns, to prove just how effective the application of behavioural science can be in marketing and PR.
The thinking is all based around one epiphany or realisation - that human nature simply hasn’t changed that much, in spite of all the world’s advances, and so in some instances it is the unchanging man that communicators should be looking towards if they want to hone in on the killer insight to shape a campaign. Instead of being consumed, as we often are, about the changing man.
From price relativity, to anchoring, to the ‘risky’ pratfall effect which relies on a brand’s willingness to shout about a flaw, brands have been using behavioural biases to influence loyalty, cement perceptions and drive sales for a long time. Some of the best examples are now arguably some of the most iconic – and successful – ad campaigns of all time, including the infamous De Beers diamond campaign coups (and there were a few).
The first coup was making diamonds the natural choice for engagement when they once weren’t (you might not believe it but in the early 20th century people were as likely to get engaged with sapphires, emeralds and rubies) but amazingly this wasn’t its best bit of copywriting.
That was used in its second and most infamous ad campaign – making the world believe that a month’s salary was the right amount to spend on now sought after diamond…and to top that… later convincing the same world that it should be 2 months’ salary!
De Beers cleverly used anchoring – the simple tactic of communicating a number from which subsequent spending decisions are benched against.
The result? An absolute diamond of a campaign.
Behavioural Science, folks. It’s in our nature.