Fighting the Fat (or Not): Behavioural Insight

With levels of obesity increasing, efforts are being made in several of the countries affected to find a way of getting overweight people to stop cramming high calorie food into their mouths on a regular basis. Diet is a fascinating area, since it’s one in which many people have first hand experience of what I call “the Mind Gap” – the space that exists between the unconscious and conscious mind.  In this case it’s experienced when people make firm commitments to lose weight, commitments that they have with complete (conscious) conviction at the time, then find that after an initial period of success their weight returns to its previous level.  Sometimes they ascribe their return to greater mass to mystic forces or an underlying medical condition, but more often they realise that they’ve not been sticking to the good intentions they made and, in a distracted moment, have taken it upon themselves to […]

The True Meaning of Christmas?

In the run up to December 25th I received several requests from broadcasters to talk about Christmas, how much we spend and whether the “true meaning” gets lost in this consumer age of ours. I was happy to contribute to the debate and add my point of view. But the best time to analyse Christmas and its meaning is now, a few days after the event – or depending on how you look at it – still in the middle of it.  Rather than muddle matters with our self-perceptions and idealisations, look back at our Christmas behaviour and see what happened. I believe that, here in the UK, the following generalisations will apply to most people – I could be wrong, this is a blog after all, not a piece of formal research: People get together with family and friends far more frequently and for longer than at other times […]

Rebranding: Learning from the Past

I once had a conversation with the Marketing Director of a brand that is a household name in which he suggested that no products had updated their brand identities.  We were having the conversation because his main brand was so tired that sales were in decline and customers didn’t see its packs on the shelves of their supermarkets: it looked exactly the same as it had a decade earlier (and it was hardly the most relevant product back then). When I used Skoda as an example, he moved the goal posts to FMCG products.  Then when I referenced other FMCG products that had dramatically redesigned their brand without disaster he argued that these weren’t in the same category as his product. So his point was, that since none of his competitors had successfully updated their brand identity, he shouldn’t be the first one to risk it. Except, of course, all of […]

Market Research Saved My Life Again

As I mentioned last time, I’ve only once found an impromptu use for my understanding of consumer behaviour and consumer psychology, and I certainly never anticipated that a situation might arise where market research might make a difference between life and death. But that just shows how little I know. Recently, the UK government has announced that 10% of hospital (NHS Trust) funding will be dependent on patient satisfaction levels.  To put that in financial terms, that could mean around £10billion of expenditure will be dependent on patient satisfaction. And here’s the thing.  This is, in my opinion, the most profoundly stupid example of using market research that I have ever encountered: it’s going to result in lives being lost. Let’s go back a few years, before any of us had heard of MRSA or any of the other so-called super-bugs that are resistant to antibiotics and kill people. How […]