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The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics

Jan 8, 2021

Today I am so excited to introduce you to Richard Chataway. Richard is such an awesome and fun guy to chat with. He has worked on so many amazing projects, and let me just tell you right now you are going to love this episode. While Richard works with all sorts of businesses and organizations when applying behavioral economics as CEO of BVA Nudge Unit UK, our conversation ended up talking a lot about addiction, and how he worked on some campaigns that helped people quit smoking. 

When you think about changing behavior and how you can apply the insights from behavioral science, it may feel like an addiction would be it is out of the realm of possibility. As you will hear today, the same concepts that are applied in businesses to help people to choose the best product for them can also be used to understand behavior and help people make healthier choices; Things they may desperately want to do and have struggled for years on their own, but with a well-structured program including the right insights from behavioral economics, it becomes possible. 

You can learn more from Richard and projects he has worked on in his book and accompanying podcast, both called The Behaviour Business.

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Show Notes:

  • [00:41] I am so excited to introduce you to Richard Chataway. Richard is such an awesome and fun guy to chat with.
  • [01:46] You can learn more from Richard and projects he has worked on in his book and accompanying podcast, both called The Behaviour Business.
  • [03:50] Richard shares how he got into behavioral science about 15 years ago when he worked at the Department of Health in the UK. 
  • [04:50] Smoking as a behavior is very interesting because it is a quintessential irrational behavior.  We are at a point now that everyone knows it is bad for them and that it has short-term and long-term consequences for their health but still people continue smoking. 
  • [06:01] They have changed their approach from telling smokers about the risks to helping them quit and providing them with tools. It was more effective than the traditional approach.  
  • [06:41] Our behavior is not as rational as we think it is and by recognizing some of those irrationalities we can be very successful in changing behavior.  
  • [08:11] Now Richard works for the BVA Nudge Unit. They are a specialist behavioral practice within BVA. 
  • [09:47] Behavioral science can be applied across a huge range of challenges and contexts.
  • [12:02] Behavioral science is helping to show that if you talk about it differently changes can happen.  
  • [12:56] How you say something is as important as what you’re saying. You can frame things in a way that resonates with people and is more motivating. 
  • [15:30] In their research they found that family-based motivations were very important to the group of smokers they were targeting. Smoking was seen as their reward.  
  • [17:11] The fundamental message that smoking is bad hasn’t changed.  Reframing that it doesn’t just impact you but it also impacts your family made the campaign much more effective.  
  • [19:14] If you can shake up your routine and change it a little bit, it can have a huge impact. Habits are very powerful drivers of behavior.  
  • [20:18] It is very easy to think of smoking as being a habitual behavior automatically, but there is a reward element to it.  
  • [22:38] Emotions are very powerful drivers of our behavior.  In their campaign, they were trying to find the right emotional triggers to get that response. 
  • [24:03] Richard shares about a tv ad campaign they created showcasing how children copy the behavior of their parents. 
  • [26:01] It is a good campaign when you get goosebumps when you hear about it. 
  • [27:38] The smoking campaign was really an ah-ha moment for Richard for how behavioral science can help with addressing all kinds of problems.  The focus of his book is how you can use behavioral science to deliver better outcomes for your business.  
  • [28:05] Any business’s challenges are typically around behavior.  
  • [29:01] We have learned more about human behavior in the last fifty years than we have in the last 50,000. Any business that isn’t using that knowledge is going to be missing out.  
  • [29:14] Richard shares his favorite stories from his book including where the understanding and knowledge of behavioral science unlocked a new way of thinking about and addressing a problem.   
  • [30:49] We know from behavioral science that the more friction we put into places, the less likely people are to use it.  
  • [32:04] People like things that are easy and streamlined.
  • [34:58] Understanding behavioral science is one thing, but when it comes to applying it you have to be comfortable with testing everything and being scientific and experimental in that way.  
  • [37:12] It is often a combination of things that have the impact we want and that is why testing is so important.   
  • [38:04] Richard shares a counterintuitive approach they found when working with a bank in the UK. 
  • [41:02] They told customers on the phone with the bank, “Take your time” to put people more at ease even though they wanted the calls to be quicker. 
  • [44:37] When people are already overwhelmed all the stress quickly snowballs when we aren’t thinking about making it easy for customers to do what they need to do.  
  • [45:54] There is a balance to be struck between protecting people’s privacy, but if a service isn’t easy to use then there is a big downside to that too. 
  • [48:24] Melina’s closing reflections.

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