At Futerra we banned using behaviour change tactics in the office. ‘Symbolic self completion’ was being wielded to defend sandwiches left in the fridge, and ‘discounting effect’ insidiously applied to making tea. So the following article comes with a health warning: The psychology and neuroscience of behaviour change is powerful stuff.
After years of researching and activating behaviour change I’ve learnt what works, and although I can’t use these tactics in the office, they are the bedrock of the most effective behavioural campaigns by business and governments. If I occasionally use them in wrangling a 3-year-old's bedtime then perhaps it’s forgivable.
Today we launch the new Changemaker Pack. These 13 cards each include direct guidance on a behaviour change tactic and example to bring it to life. The tactics are drawn from both the vast research base on behaviour but also from case studies from Walmart, NBC, Zipcar and L’Oréal amongst others. There’s a formal workshop to build a behaviour strategy from the cards. Or just lay them out on a table and get started.
Here’s three of my favourites, for corporate campaigns and bedtime negotiations:
We all pass through ‘transition zones.’ These are life experiences with behaviour change automatically built in. If you’ve had a baby, moved home or retired, then reflect for a moment on the huge, and tiny, habit resets that made that event transformational. Even seasonal change and payday are little transition zones. Our habits and behaviours unfreeze at these times, and we’re open to setting new ones.
So the most impactful decision in any behaviour change campaign could be when rather than what. It’s also a nifty insight for making changes in your own life; change when change is easy.
Enemies of timing: Uniformity, inappropriateness and lack of attention.
Tools of timing: Consumer insight, proactivity and planning.
Ask yourself, can your brand introduce new behaviours at the perfect moment?
To change a specific behaviour you almost always must change that behaviours status. Thankfully, your marketers are already masters of status. They obsess about ensuring your product or service is cool, desirable and impressive. Sustainability wasn’t always high status; brand power can make sustainability sexy, and sustainability can make brands authentic.
Enemies of status: Worthiness, fear and criticism.
Tools of status: Fashion, fame, prestige and desirability.
Ask yourself, can your brand turn a ‘better’ behaviour into something high status?
People like having fun.
Consumers have more time and energy for leisure, pleasure and fulfilment than for chores. Fun can make difficult behaviours more desirable. Bring some enjoyment to sustainable lifestyles.
Find humour, mystery, competition, gamification, silliness and even glamour in your target behaviour.
Enemies of Fun: Dullness, necessity, work and chores.
Tools of Fun: Joy, excitement, interest and laughter.
Ask yourself, can your brand make sustainable behaviours fun?
Will it work?
People want to live better lives. We all want to be happier, healthier and more fulfilled. What’s more, from how we eat to how we wash, how we heat our homes to how we get around, a better life is a more sustainable one, too.
But if it was as easy as wanting, we’d all keep fit, recycle, eat green and no one would smoke. While people find it difficult to change behaviours, brands are very good at it. And, because people want to live better lives, brands that can help are rewarded with loyalty and love. As are people.
So our new ‘changemaker cards’ should really come with a health warning of try this at home.