Feb 21, 2020
Companies are getting more savvy
about using behavioral economics not only to sell products, but to
help consumers make better choices. Will Leach has taken the
concepts of behavioral economics and social sciences to the next
level with his book
Marketing to Mindstates: The
Practical Guide to Applying Behavior Design to Research and
Marketing. I am very
excited to talk with him today. He is the founder of the behavioral
consultancy TriggerPoint. Previous to starting his business, Will led
behavioral science methods at PepsiCo, and he has won numerous
awards for his innovative work in behavioral economics.
When reading Will’s book, I knew
within the first few pages that he needed to come on the podcast.
This is even before I realized that he got his master’s from Texas
A&M University (I talked about the Texas A&M Human Behavior
Lab in episode 33 where I interviewed Dr. Marco Palma.) Will and I
had a lot of fun talking about the lab and team down there before
we jumped into the interview. Will was at A&M before the lab
was built, but we have both seen it in person thanks to Dr.
Will does such a great job of
breaking down a really complex area of marketing into a formula
that any business can follow – from global corporations like
PepsiCo to small businesses. One area I know non-marketers (and
even many marketing teams to be honest) struggle with is
determining their target market and really narrowing it down and
then knowing how to properly communicate with them. Will and I talk
about his and the concept of the 18 different mindstates and nine
motivations. He also shares his step by step process to help you
determine which is the best for your company. This is an innovative
and mind opening interview.
- [03:46] For Will, behavioral economics was the
classic “I didn't know it existed until I stumbled upon
- [03:56] Will joined the military right out of
high school. He then studied classical economics.
- [04:16] He discovered marketing research
through a graduate program and fell in love with it. It wasn't just
looking at economics, it was looking at why people do what they
- [04:39] While working at PepsiCo, he discovered
behavioral economics and behavioral science. In 2009, PepsiCo
invested $20 million in a laboratory to study the neurological
impacts of messaging.
- [05:08] Will was lucky enough to get to run
behavioral science experiments, and he loved it so much he started
his own business and wrote a book about it.
- [05:55] His favorite project was working on a
brand new snack. It was a healthy baked hummus chip. The brand
called Wicked Crisps was designed using purely behavioral sciences.
The target market was the owner's daughter (or millennial moms).
Will helped design the name, logo, tagline, bag, and website.
Behavioral science was behind everything that they designed from
fonts to benefits.
- [11:58] Will studied economics. He didn't want
to just talk about theory. He wanted a practical
- [13:02] He conveys specific models through
- [14:01] He also dug into motivational
psychology and goal theory. He looked at all six social sciences
and found patterns.
- [16:25] Will thinks of mindstates as moments in
time when we are being influenced. We aren't always consistent with
our beliefs and attitudes. Our environment changes us.
- [18:20] His book is about moments in time and
why a certain archetype may behave outside of the norm for them.
Applying mindstates can help understand beliefs and values and
impacts of the environment on these moments.
- [20:57] Companies now look at how to help
customers make better choices. Making their whole life better gives
the company permission to sell them more. Brands are getting
smarting and taking a holistic approach.
- [24:46] Will is the most excited about the idea
of getting the mindstates out for everyone to use. They want to get
more and more people to understand that there is science behind our
decisions. There are also emotions around our decisions and just
understanding a few small rules is a huge benefit.
- [25:57] We can sell more with behavioral
economics. We can also reduce anxiety levels and create a better
- [26:30] Will is getting more excited about the
education side and using these concepts to help understand and
- [27:02] He uses goal theory to help understand
what people are trying to accomplish. Helping people reach their
goals can create a better society.
- [29:39] The nine motivations are achievement,
autonomy, belonging, competence, empowerment, engagement, esteem,
nurturance, and security. Then find optimistic and cautious
- [30:28] When guys are asked why they want
to lose weight and get healthy the answer is usually so they can
walk their daughter down the wedding aisle.
- [31:20] One reason why a dad would want to do
this is nurturance. So a goal is “walk my daughter down the aisle”
and the motivation is “nurturance.”
- [32:09] Promotion (or using an optimistic lens)
is seeking to maximize losing weight. It's about maximizing
- [32:45] A prevention lens focuses on
eliminating doing bad things.
- [33:10] These details matter when you frame
your benefits. They are either using cautious nurturance or
- [36:36] Be clear and stand for one thing. Take
a stand and own it, and you will benefit tremendously.
- [38:33] The Hero and the Outlaw
does a good law job of outlining
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