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Nudge Nudge Wink Wink Say No More

by sadie • September 24

I recently came across this Harvard Business Review article about the book, Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler.

Most people dislike being told what to do, even when it’s for our own best interests. The authors suggest we can “nudge” people in the right direction by affecting the environment in which they are making their decisions. As you might expect, this generally works better than just nagging them about it.

The article highlights an example taking place in the Google cafeteria, where a well-placed sign informs diners who are about to grab a plate for the buffet that people who take the smaller plate tend to eat less than people who choose the larger one. After brushing aside my jealousy of the free Google gourmet lunches, I’ve been thinking… how can this be applied to the retail environment and at-shelf decision-making?

When a customer walks into a store, they already have a preconceived notion of your brand – the culmination of everything they’ve ever seen or heard or experienced for themselves. Or it could be a completely blank slate. What can packaging do to change the shopping experience?

One way to affect the environment is by slowing down the purchase process. Shoppers want to grab and go, but if there is an engaging story to discover, they will stick around just long enough to let you tell it. One example is the Christmas story inspired illustrations that we developed for Bath & Body Works Holiday Traditions and played out across the range of products. Another is the wraparound label on Climax Moonshine that reveals the maker, Tim Smith’s, real-life process story.

Can you think of any other ways to change the shopping experience and “nudge” consumers in the right direction?