By Dan Bennett, Senior Behavioural Strategist at Ogilvy Change


After many years of practicing the application of behavioural science across the world, our thinking about the best way to do it is evolving.

Although behavioural science is not a new topic, the field's recent rise to fame over the past years has certainly led to an increase of nudges and behavioural interventions that a consumer experiences on a day-to-day basis.

There is evidence to suggest that the execution of the principle of scarcity - "two seats left at this price" - is sometimes less effective now than it was just five years ago.

Now, this doesn’t suggest that the human brain no longer reacts to conditions of scarcity. It hasn’t just unlearnt thousands of years of adaptive experience to desire things more when there’s less of it. Rather, it’s likely that upon repeated exposure to the execution, the consumer becomes less responsive. What we might call ‘habituation’.

The principle of scarcity remains effective, but the execution of the principle wears out.

What does become evident, however, is that we can't simply 'paint by numbers' when it comes to applying the science. To remain relevant and effective, the principles need to be applied by artists and not accountants.

The task now becomes using creative and lateral inspiration to create fresh and engaging applications of the principles, to move beyond “two seats left at this price”.

We find this inspiration is best found by cross pollinating industries. Lessons learnt in Formula, 1 for example, once led hospitals to make fewer human errors in surgery. If you want to change two tyres in less than 1.4 seconds you have one person doing each job - one unscrews the wheel, one removes the wheel, one pushes on the new wheel and another secured the wheel in place. With one job, fewer mistakes occur when acting at high speeds. This lateral insight has applied to many aspects of the medical process, from patient handovers and the surgery itself, and lead to a significant saving of life.

Or more poignantly, if you have a difficult behavioural challenge you cannot seem to solve, you probably won’t find the answer by searching within the industry you’re in.

And it turns out that Nudgestock 2017 is the perfect place to learn lateral lessons from a vast array of industries. We have speakers from politics, board game design, aid distribution, aviation, sport and …. Hygge (pronounced hue-guh).

If you’re coming down to Nudgestock this year, hope to see you there.

May the cross-pollination begin!

Find out more about Nudgestock here.

More from Dan on the marriage of behavioural science and advertising here.