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The Value of Marketing to Consumers’ Instincts

Posted By Matthew Willcox, Tuesday 22 August 2017

A good friend of mine, Lloyd Glen, says, “I like choices that make themselves.” This is a keen insight into human nature. While we are often loath to admit it at a conscious level, our instincts consistently guide us to the easiest choice. If there is a path that allows us to cut a corner, saving three seconds and 0.5 calories of effort, we take it.

Taking away a little effort, or even adding a little, can change our choices quite dramatically. In an experiment at Google’s New York office, behavioral economist Dan Ariely showed that putting the free M&Ms dotted around Google’s offices in jars with lids rather than open bowls reduced consumption by about 3 million pieces per month (good news for the company that provides Google’s dental insurance, but not such good news, perhaps, for Mars Inc.). We replicated this experiment in our offices and found that a day’s supply of M&Ms in a bowl lasted a full week in a jar with a lid. A study led by Paul Rozin from the University of Pennsylvania showed that when the door of an ice cream freezer in a cafeteria was left open, ice cream sales were 20% greater than when the door was left shut.

Behavioral science is littered with examples of how making things cognitively or physically easier (or more difficult) affects choice. An analysis of organ donation consent programs across Europe shows that countries that require you to opt in to donating your organs—that is, requiring you to actively indicate that you consent to donate them—seldom get more than 20% consent rates, according to research by Dan Goldstein, principal researcher at Microsoft, and Eric Johnson, a professor at Columbia University. Countries that require you to opt out seldom got less than 80% consent rates. For example, Denmark, a country that requires you to opt in, showed a consent rate of 4%, while neighboring Sweden, an opt-out country, has consent rates of about 86%.

With its vivid reminder of our own mortality, the choice to donate or not to donate our organs is an extreme example of a decision that we’d rather not think about. The default makes something difficult to consider an easier choice. For better or worse (in this case, I would put a larger supply of organs for people who need them as better), the default makes organ donation a choice that makes itself.

In his wonderful book, Misbehaving, behavioral economist Richard Thaler tells of how, in his work with the U.K. government’s Behavioural Insights Team (a breakthrough group whose work probably encompasses the biggest and broadest evidence-based and practical applications of behavioral science to date), he used a simple mantra: “If you want to encourage someone to do something, make it easy.”

In the process of writing my book, The Business of Choice: Marketing to Consumers’ Instincts, I developed an appreciation of marketing that makes choice easier. What I concluded was that approaches that did this often had other benefits to both the marketer and the chooser.

In Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman and Rick DeLisi, the authors define the role of customer service as “mitigating disloyalty by reducing customer effort.” One example that caught my attention was how clothing retailer Old Navy has labeled hooks in dressing rooms: At the time that Dixon et al wrote their book, one hook was labeled “Love It,” a second was labeled “Like It,” and a third was labeled “Not For Me.”

While researching my book, I visited a number of Old Navy stores and found that the retailer had modified the program slightly. The middle hook no longer has the “Like It” label, but is now a “Love It” hook. Forgive my enthusiasm, but I think these hooks are marketing genius! First, they make physical aspects of choice easier. I do not have to think how I will organize the clothes I like and the clothes that don’t work for me. It sounds like a small thing, but I would argue that it could make a big difference.

Second, by relabeling the “Like It” hook to “Love It,” the retailer took away the ambiguity in choice, something that makes us slower and unhappier as choosers. Third, having two “Love It” hooks and one “Not For Me” hook suggests that people bring more clothes into the changing rooms that they love rather than dislike, creating an implied social norm.

Finally, having choosers put an item on a hook that says “Love It” closes the gap between trying something on and buying it by making people feel a sense of ownership of and commitment to that item. Confirming our choice makes our preference for that choice even stronger. If Old Navy could put a credit card swipe next to those “Love It” hooks, they should.

I came across another great example of making choice easier while on vacation in Budapest a couple of months ago. Visiting in the middle of a heat wave, I ducked into a drug store to buy some sunscreen. The thoroughly modern store had mini shopping carts that had magnifying glasses built into their handles. Rather than struggle with the small type on the ingredients panel (Is that type getting smaller every year or is it my ageing eyesight?), the magnifying glass lets you read it clearly. The shopper feels that he is making a smart and informed choice, and the retailer probably gets some degree of conscious or non-conscious credit for making a difficult task easier.

Making that difficult task easier means that people are more likely to do it, so shoppers may pick up and examine more products. There is a benefit for the retailer and the brand in this. Simply picking up and touching a product increases perceived ownership, which leads to people being prepared to pay more for that item, according to a 2009 study in the Journal of Consumer Research. The magnifying glass also requires shoppers to hold the item over the shopping cart while they examine it. It’s much easier to drop it in the cart than to stretch to put it back on the shelf.

In Effortless Experience, the authors suggest that organizations should evaluate how easy it is for their customers to do business with them and resolve problems with a metric that they call the “customer effort score.” I think that they’re onto something that deserves to live beyond customer service. As marketers, a question that we should always be considering is, How can we make the decision to choose our brand easier? If you take a long, hard look at every aspect of your marketing through the filter of an “effort to choose” score, you could end up making the decision for people to choose your brand—a choice that makes itself.


This article was first published on The American Marketing Association website.


Matthew WillcoxMatthew Willcox is the Founding Partner of The Business of Choice, a behavioral insights and choice architecture consultancy and author of The Business of Choice: Marketing to Consumer's Instincts.

Matthew Willcox will lead the next edition of the Marketing Institute Masterclass series The Business of Choice: Customer and Consumer Decision Making.

See event information and register here.





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A Day in the Life of... Roisin Field, Advertising & Digital Content Lead at Ulster Bank

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 16 August 2017
Updated: Tuesday 15 August 2017

roisin field ulster bank

The Marketing Institute: What does an Advertising & Digital Content Lead at Ulster Bank do?

Roisin Field: My role is to work with the Head of Marketing to build the advertising strategy for the bank. This means building the brand and promoting our key products in the market. This involves working with two main groups of people; key decision makers across the business and then with our agencies to develop and implement campaigns.


MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

R.F: For the past 12 years I’ve worked in creative agencies in Dublin (Strategem, CKSK & Guns or Knives) and in London at JWT, across a wide variety of industries and in both local and international markets. I recently decided to make the move out of creative agency and into my current client slide role to broaden my experience, learn new skills and challenge myself in a new way.


MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

R.F: Adjusting to the different culture, as it’s a little different to agency land. Also learning to navigate the ins and outs of the world of banking. After 12 years in agency I wanted to learn a different side of the business and take control of a brand.


MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

R.F: You need to be a good communicator and have strong relationship building skills to be able to rally the internal troops to support your plans. I can bring my experience in brand building and communications to the table but I need to be able to present plans clearly, with confidence and energy to ensure my key stakeholders buy into and support the plans. I also think you need to love what you do and if you’re passionate about it is easier to motivate others.  


MII: Describe a typical working day.

R.F: My job means I can be working on anything from long term brand positioning, to day-to-day campaign execution, to participating in internal working groups and meetings.

Every morning, after I have gone through my email I take twenty minutes to do a quick WIP with my team to ensure they have the required support for the day ahead and so they know where I am for sign-offs etc. I tend to move between my base in Central Park, our Georges Quay office and the agencies for meetings so it’s important my team can get me when they need me.

The rest of the day is generally a mixed bag & no two days in UB are the same.  I can be attending internal or external meetings, writing briefs or internal papers, attending training courses, coaching my team or being coached by my line manager. There is great variety to the role and as I am still relatively new there is always someone new to meet or something new to learn about.


MII: What do you love most about your role?

R.F: That I am constantly learning. It’s a new brand for me to get under the skin of but also a new role so I’m constantly adapting the skills and experience I have built over my career in agency to this new role and environment. Banking is a changing industry with a lot of exciting opportunities and innovation so being part of that is very exciting.


MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

R.F: Who knows! I am only 4 months into this new chapter and it’s been a big change so far.  As I’ve said, I’m learning all the time and being challenged in new ways which is both exciting and rewarding. We’ve recently appointed a new creative agency and I’m looking forward to working with them and seeing how we can build the Ulster Bank brand.


MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

R.F: I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazingly talented people throughout my career. My first boss and mentor Carole Ann Clarke is definitely someone I still turn to for advice and inspiration, as are the close friends I’ve built in the industry. I think it’s important to look to those along side you treading the same paths and not just those who have gone before you.

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The State of Online and Mobile Retailing in Ireland

Posted By James Wilson, Mintel, Wednesday 16 August 2017
Updated: Tuesday 15 August 2017

online and mobile retailing

Mintel’s latest Online and Mobile retailing report examines the online and mobile retailing sector in Ireland through exploring the issues that are fuelling and affecting its growth. The research reveals that the increased usage of mobile devices, uptake of mobile payment platforms and consumers switching to purchasing digital versions of physical goods, such as music and movie streaming services, will contribute significantly to growth over the next few years as consumers look to access content from anywhere and at any time.

Below, James Wilson, Research Analyst at Mintel, answers some of the key questions addressed in the report.


How is the online and mobile retailing market performing in Ireland?

The value of online and mobile retail sales is estimated to grow by 18% on an all-Ireland basis between 2016 and 2017 to reach €10.4 billion in 2017. This equates to an average online spend of €1,577 per capita for each of the island of Ireland’s 6.58 million population. Looking at the regions, online and mobile retail sales in RoI will grow at twice the rate of NI between 2016 and 2017. Thus, in 2017, RoI will account for 82% of total online sales on the island of Ireland, some €8.4 billion, and NI for the remaining 18%, €1.8 billion.


What factors are driving growth in the market?

The increase in average spend per person and high device ownership are helping to drive value growth in online retail sales on the island of Ireland. Furthermore, the improvements to broadband provision and mobile internet infrastructure, and uptake of online payment platforms are increasing the ease with which consumers can buy goods online. The strong growth in online shopping indicates that Irish consumers continue to take advantage of convenient purchasing channels that better fit into their busy lifestyles. As this will continue over the coming years, retailers will need to ensure they have the appropriate infrastructure in place to cater for growing demand. This will help to not only maintain but grow consumers’ confidence in buying goods online, potentially resulting in more of them doing so and thus growing the overall value of the market.


How do you predict the market will fare in the future?

Growth in the value of online and mobile retail sales will remain strong over the next five years, rising by 54% on an all-Ireland basis between 2018 and 2022. This will take the value of the market to approximately €18.5 billion in 2022.


Where are consumers choosing to shop online and which devices are they using?

Irish consumers show a strong preference for shopping online at home. Laptop and desktop computers are the devices that Irish consumers are most likely to use to buy goods when shopping online at home. Within the regions, women in NI are more likely to use smartphones to purchase goods online, while RoI women show a preference for tablets, making these the second most popular devices for shopping online at home behind desktop and laptop computers. Adopting a regional approach for each device can help brands to more effectively reach Irish women and help to drive sales occurring via mobile devices.


What are the opportunities for brands to appeal further to these consumers?

With Irish consumers primarily making purchases via mobile devices at home, it is likely that they are doing so while engaging in other activities, such as second screening when watching TV for example. This indicates that there may be external stimuli (eg TV ads, other person) within the home that are prompting consumers to make a purchase. Brands could look to better understand what activities and programmes consumers are engaging in when or just before they make a purchase online via mobile devices. Indeed, this will help brands to better tailor the promotion of their products and services and thus help to boost impulse sales occurring online.


What are consumers buying online?

Clothing, footwear and accessories are the most popular items that Irish consumers buy online. Despite the strong growth of online streaming services, Irish consumers are still more likely to buy physical copies of books, CDs, DVDs and video games compared to digital versions. Groceries are still much more likely to be bought online by consumers in NI than by those in RoI. Indeed, Mintel’s Grocery Retailing: Brand vs Own-label Ireland 2016 Report shows that consumers in RoI are more likely than their NI counterparts to do their main grocery shopping in-store. This reflects that online shopping remains underdeveloped in RoI compared to NI due to the low level of retailers offering this service outside of the main urban areas in the region (eg Dublin and Cork).


What would shoppers pay more for?

Around eight in 10 Irish consumers would be willing to wait for deliveries if it means cheaper or free postage. This indicates that despite retailers investing in quicker delivery methods, price of delivery is more important to Irish online shoppers. However, one in five want faster delivery and would be interested in paying an annual or monthly postage fee to ensure the goods they order online are delivered the next day. Over a quarter (27%) of NI and 28% of RoI consumers are also interested in having packages delivered by drone, indicating that there is demand for more innovative and flexible delivery methods that will enable consumers to receive their goods at a time and location that suits them.


mintel online retailing



As a research analyst with Mintel, James researches and writes in the retail, technology and leisure sectors for Mintel’s Irish series of reports. His specialist areas include all things digital with a focus on social media and consumer shopping habits. He has featured in radio interviews and national publications such as The Times.

Mintel’s Online and Mobile Retail, Ireland, 2017 report is available to purchase, for more information on this report and how Mintel can help your business, contact Ciara Rafferty, Director Mintel Ireland on +44 (0)28 9024 1849 or

mintel logo

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A Day in the Life of... Michele Griffin, Commercial Director at the RDS

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Thursday 10 August 2017
Updated: Friday 4 August 2017

michele griffin rdsThe Marketing Institute: What does the commercial director at the RDS  do?

Michele Griffin: The role of commercial director at the RDS  involves revenue responsibility for the RDS Venues. This includes Key Account Management with the sales team for customers in conferencing, exhibitions, sports, concerts, exams and special events; I work with the Marketing team on venue marketing & brand development and evolving Sponsorship and Revenue Optimisation opportunities at the venue. Catering & hospitality are core ancillary revenue streams and with our partners RDS Hospitality (RDSH) we have launched a number of  new packages in the marketplace and this innovation has been very well received.


MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

M.G: I started life as a teacher and taught for 2 years full time and then moved to work with Dublin Zoo to head up their education department, and later moved into the business side of the Zoo as Commercial Director. I was a Member of the Management Team that transformed Dublin Zoo from a state-subsidized attraction to a self-financing modern Conservation Park.  The commercial portfolio gave me great insight into running a visitor attraction with a not-for-profit ethos and saw me working across gate admissions and ticketing, retail, catering, sponsorship and associated activities marketing, education, volunteer & outreach services.

A relocation to my home county of Cork presented an opportunity to work with University College Cork (UCC) as their Director of Development at the Cork University Foundation; this involved  raising donations annually from corporates, individuals, Trusts and Foundations to underwrite capital and strategic projects at the University. A subsequent return to Dublin involved a move to the Irish Management Institute (IMI) as Director of Membership & Marketing at the IMI, prior to commencing working here with the RDS!


MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

M.G: The Event Industry sees daily challenges as you can imagine, bringing a large scale exhibition or conference ‘to life’   as the RDS  seeks to work with our customers to make their event ‘extraordinary’ – and our recent venue re-brand captures this spirit. As Ireland’s busiest venue, the  RDS  positions itself as the venue of choice. Meeting customer expectations that will deliver an exceptional and extraordinary event carries its own pressure! Fortunately, the RDS have a superb team in place with strong event experience, so we are well positioned to meet the challenges of the 500 events that happen here annually.


MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

M.G: Knowledge of the events industry is essential and an appreciation of the process from concept to planning and execution of an event are core parts of the job; my commercial skills have been honed over the years and the RDS presents an abundance of opportunity to grow, develop and innovate from  new and existing revenue streams. As a person, I’m capable and robust, so that comes into play as the venue operates a busy events calendar annually.


MII: Describe a typical working day.

M.G: A typical day is punctuated by activity that ensures the venue will achieve its commercial revenue target for the year and the commercial team at the venue are 100% focused on that goal.

To illustrate a typical day, I’ll talk through today - a typical day in August prior to our biggest annual event – the Dublin Horse Show, where I hold several commercial responsibilities.

Early morning started with a sponsorship meeting:  with an annual Dublin Horse Show sponsorship budget close on €1 million, the sponsorship team meet daily to ensure delivery of the activation packages promised and as the Dublin Horse Show seeks a new ‘’title sponsor’’ significant work is being undertaken on that front in 2017. Next stop was a staff briefing on the Horse Show; followed by a series of other meetings &  interactions with staff on the media centre, hospitality and trade stands at the show, signing a large event contract (the culmination of 2 years work)  and finally writing this article for The Marketing Institute!


MII: What do you love most about your role?

M.G: The RDS are re-developing the main arena and we are working currently with a Naming Rights partner to assist funding this; in addition to seeking funding from Government to see this project through. The outcome will be an amazing new facility to support the Dublin Horse Show and our commercial activity with Leinster Rugby, Outdoor Concerts and other large scale outdoor events.  


MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

M.G: I have had the good fortune to have a career I thoroughly relish and enjoy, and also the privilege of being a parent to my 3 children, with Dara my husband, over the past 17 years. As any working mother will understand, managing the balance between family and career is a daily challenge, but as my kids are moving to a more independent stage, I look forward to  reviewing where my career is going and the opportunities that it will bring.


MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

M.G: Mary Robinson is a person I admire. As a role model for professional women in a  contemporary working environment, she is a person of principle who represented our country so well as a President and her many achievements and contributions with the UN and progressing the social justice agenda. For myself, working in the not-for-profit sector interests and motivates me;  the ethos of achieving change or positive outcomes,  based on principles and shared values,  is very rewarding. 

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Vizeum Connection Points: July Industry Updates

Posted By Vizeum, Wednesday 9 August 2017
Updated: Friday 4 August 2017


JCDecaux have announced the introduction of the Republic of Ireland’s first large format LED Roadside Advertising Screens - at the junction of Pembroke Road, Herbert Park & Elgin Road in D4. 


RTÉ Player are launching Dynamic Ad Insertion into their live stream, this is basically inserting copy into the section where natural TV breaks are which is currently blacked out. 


Snap Ads are now available in the Irish market. It begins with an up to 10-second vertical video, and then offer the option to add an interactive element one swipe away. 


Facebook are bringing adverts to Messenger. People will see Messenger ads in the home tab of their Messenger mobile app. 


Ads in Stories is a new format for businesses on Instagram. The full screen vertical format allows an immersive experience in both video or photo options. 


Google’s Irish operation has avoided a €1.12bn tax bill after a French court found it did not abuse any loopholes. 


Exterion Media have launched a new experiential offering called LIVE! This new offering will take the opportunities available across CIÉ rail and bus stations to maximise brand activation campaigns. 


INM have announced it is launching PlayersXpe, Irelands first global gaming and entertainment event. It will be help in October in the Convention Centre, and promises to include a number of international gaming stars. 


Vizeum's promise is to drive business value through media for our clients. Established in 2004, Vizeum is structured to take full advantage of the opportunities brought about by the digitization of media. The company manages its client business via a partner structure. This ensures that every client has senior advisors managing their business. These senior points of contact develop integrated strategies across the entire bought, owned and earned media ecosystem. We then have the specialist skills in house to deliver that strategy in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

Vizeum sponsors The Marketing Institute's Marketing Breakfast series.

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