In our lives, we might have difficulties to do decisions. Even if we have the intention to do some activities but sometimes, it is difficult to convert them into behaviour. For instance, most of us would want to maintain a good body shape and we should exercise more, have a healthy diet and stay positive. Sometimes, we would just give ourselves some excuses and think, “I will do it tomorrow…”. Some other behaviours include taking junk food, overspending on credit cards and even drink and drive. People don’t always act rationally. In fact, they tend to act irrationally but in predictable ways. Because their mistakes tend to be predictable, people can be encouraged to make better choices. Hence, we apply choice architecture and give them a nudge. A behavioural nudge is getting you to do something without restraining your freedom of choice or changing financial incentives.
Understanding human behaviour is important in forming public policy, good regulatory practice and creating motivated guidelines. In the private sectors, it helps to form an organisation behavioural policy, marketing strategies and a sustainable business environment that the consumers are transformed into your brand ambassadors.
Behavioural insights help us to understand how people make their decision in their everyday lives. The knowledge of behavioural insights is beyond that of the rational behaviour that was described in the economics books. We must understand; the human being is unique. A human being has mind and soul that make each and every one of us unique. We have limited attention and our behaviour is regulated by the limited self-control. Don’t forget, the human is always heavily influenced by people around us and by the external environment.
Do you know that human beings can have sudden decision change just as simple as words used in delivering the message to the public? Let me illustrate this. In a shopping mall, if a consumer sees two products, the first, “10% sugar” and “90% sugar-free”, in human subconscious mind, people tend to choose the product with “90% sugar-free products”. Why? This is the power of behavioural insights. Can you see, a simple tweak on the message can influence human behaviour? Hence, the application of behavioural insights can help public sectors to educate people to follow the regulations. It creates a voluntary behaviour to comply with the public policy or the new regulations.
Turning to consumer behaviour, several methods of behavioural insights are applied in product strategies. For example, if you run a fast food restaurant, red colour is the best in a restaurant wall. Why? People would feel happy and cheerful. Red colour increases the food temptation and your customers would tend to eat more. However, after a while, they would feel hot and uneasy. As a result, they would leave the restaurant and the seats are automatically vacant for the next customer. If you are running a hospital, light blue or light green helps the patients to feel calm and the perception of the waiting time seems shorter when they are waiting.
In the service industry, we apply behavioural insights through simplifying the process to help people to convert their intention to behaviour. How do we do it? First, we analyse the procedures and steps that are involved in the decision making and action. Then, we remove the unnecessary steps and make the service more user-friendly.
For behavioural intervention, the rewarding design behavioural is applied to motivate the people for their behaviour. For example, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) of Singapore had organised the National Step Challenge. The participants were given a pedometer to monitor how many steps they have taken in a day. They can redeem rewards such as shopping and grocery vouchers if they hit a certain target. This campaign applies behavioural insights by providing positive reinforcement to the people. However, the design of the program must be carefully crafted by considering the behaviour of the people.
In order to design a behavioural insight program, it would take some time. First, we must communicate with all the stakeholders. We need to understand their experience and the ideas on ways to improve services based on the current situation. From the data analysis, we would need to perform trial in the randomised control trial (RCT) to understand the findings obtained during the initial stage. By applying this method, we can compare the effectiveness of the strategies or intervention as compared to the control group (current stage).
In behavioural intervention, we apply the framework from behavioural insight team – the EAST principle.
- Keep it Easy
- Keep it Attractive
- Keep it Social
- Keep it Timely
Behavioural insights provide the tools, framework for policymakers, department strategies, organisational strategies, sales and marketing strategies to enhance the traditional ways and uplift the delivery system. All the interventions are actually simple and easy to be implemented. Stop selling refrigerators to the Eskimos now and learn new ways to reach the heart and soul of the people!
Datuk Dr. Leow Chee Seng,
Encik Mohamad Muzaffar Abdul Hamid