My articles for SmartCompany

My weekly blog on Behavioural Economics for can be found here;

List of articles

Learning from a botched loyalty program request

Author: Bri Williams on 
I was at a well-known tea retailer the other week at the register ready to pay. "Would you like to join our loyalty program?" asked the sales assistant

How a freemium site got me to upgrade

Author: Bri Williams on 
I've been in the market for webinar software and came across via a search engine. A few elements of their business model appealed as examples of behavioural techniques in play.

A beer lesson in "consumption design" for behavioural influence

Author: Bri Williams on 
Some great examples have popped up recently of how the behaviour of buyers can be influenced by the physical experience that goes with consumption – let's call it 'consumption design'.
Last week the Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek condemned Imperial Tobacco's move to introduce a form of stylised plain packaging ahead of the mandatory and uniform olive green, unbranded version.

Behavioural lessons from one of the best booking websites

Author: Bri Williams on 
My heart began to race. It was the last one and I knew there were four other interested buyers. No time to muck around, I better go in for the kill. Where's my credit card?
You've been dealing with this customer for what seems like an eternity. On paper, the decision is an easy one, some might say trivial, and yet they can't seem to make up their mind.
A great little story grabbed my attention the other day. A supermarket in New York had set up "Man Isle", an aisle dedicated to the shopping needs and behaviours of men.

Don't underestimate the impact of fees on consumer behaviour

Author: Bri Williams on 
Imagine you are at an ATM withdrawing cash. Before you do, a message comes up reminding you that there will be a $2 fee for accessing your money through an ATM that is not part of your bank's network. Do you proceed or do you cancel the transaction?
When talking a customer through their objections, how much attention have you been paying to the way they say no? A recent study looked into the differences a "don't' vs "can't" can make to behaviour, so let's tune our ears into the implications for business.

Three tips for influencing your buyer

Author: Bri Williams on 
Decisions, decisions. If you are in the business of influencing buyers to buy, then you have lots of decisions to make about how best to communicate your message to secure the behavioural outcome you want.

Loading the dice in the game of business

Author: Bri Williams on 
Last week, together with around 100 others, I rolled the dice as part of Leverage: The Game of Business, a facilitated business fundamentals board game. Yes, a board game.

Lessons in behavioural economics from a small business owner

Author: Bri Williams on 
"Find your happy place" is what my photographer kept telling me as he snapped away for my website head shots. Well, I want you to find a happy place too by learning about how my photographer, Con, intuitively used behavioural economics to persuade me to buy his services.

Using time to heal payment wounds

Author: Bri Williams on 
Ever noticed those print and billboard ads for expensive cars that tell you how little per week you have to pay to own the latest model? Welcome to "duration neglect", our tendency to ignore the time period over which we would need to repay and concentrate instead on the size of the repayments.

Decoupling cost and benefits to swing the sale

Author: Bri Williams on 
When we make a purchase it means we have made a judgement that the benefits of the transaction have outweighed the cost. As businesses, we therefore spend a lot of time, energy and expense convincing our market that they are getting a worthwhile deal.

Persuading buyers with number psychology

Author: Bri Williams on 
We're in the season of mid-year sales, so here are a couple of pointers about representing discounts and prices to maximise your conversion.

Being a devil: Influencing your buyer's willpower

Author: Bri Williams on 
We are really good at tricking ourselves into acts of indulgence.

Getting your buyers to buy more often

Author: Bri Williams on 
Getting your buyers to buy more often by helping them know that they need to is something every business should be doing. Relying on your customers to design their own repurchase cycle is leaving yourself open to forgetfulness, delay or, worse still, substitution.

Making dough from the right behaviour

Author: Bri Williams on 
Fresh from a breakfast seminar with Tom O'Toole, I wanted to share some of his pearls of wisdom plus some behavioural insights.

What business are you really in?

Author: Bri Williams on 
If I asked you what business you are in, what would you say? Consulting, retail, manufacture, accounting, health – well, you're wrong, kind of.

Author: Bri Williams on 

Who is using behavioural economics?

Author: Bri Williams on 
A question I am often asked is "who is using behavioural economics?". The question is not surprising given we tend to look to what others are doing to help decide what we should do.
Do you tend to select wine from the middle of the list? Order a meal that is neither too expensive nor too cheap? Donate amounts that are somewhere between the highest and lowest?

Demi does. Mariah does. So does your product have a better side?
Is clicking through to your website worth my time? If I give you that personal information, what do I get in return? Is the price you are offering good enough for me to create yet another account?

Why privacy concerns are overblown

Author: Bri Williams on 
How uncomfortable would you feel if I told you I know how many children you have, where you live, and even what your car registration is? Would you be more or less concerned if I told you I got this information without the use of technology?

Successfully marketing an undesirable product

Author: Bri Williams on 
Imagine you are marketing a service that deliberately gives people a disease, is physically painful, requires them to come to you and they have to pay. Welcome to flu shot season!

Strap yourself in for my top ten reasons why you need to know about Behavioural Economics. More slap down than count down, prepare to be insulted!

Pricing pain at the petrol pump: Why $1.60 hurts

Author: Bri Williams on 
Petrol prices are on the rise and so too hysteria about what this means to Aussie households. So why does petrol fuel such intense consumer reaction? Let's see whether Behavioural Economics can provide an answer.

Getting your bills paid: The persuasive power of a smiley face

Author: Bri Williams on 
Bills. We all get them and all businesses send them, so let's look at what you can do to encourage on-time payment using the lessons of Behavioural Economics. After all, I'm sure you've got better things to do than chase late paying customers?

Why free delivery can beat a "percentage off" discount

Author: Bri Williams on 
Walking past a bedding retailer the other day, the sign on the pathway caught my attention as a nice little example of applied behavioural economics.

Getting your sign-up page right with behavioural economics

Author: Bri Williams on 
Like any internet user, you've probably encountered dozens of sign-up or user registration pages during your online travels, asking you to provide contact and other information in exchange for access to a website's content or functionality. And because sign-ups are so common, you may have become blind to the elements of what makes a good rather than bad process when you come to create one for your business.

Why more choice equals less choosing

Author: Bri Williams on 
A cafe in Melbourne has been carving out niche in a very competitive market by offering the choice of only black, white or filter coffee.

Learning from LinkedIn

Author: Bri Williams on 
LinkedIn serves as a great example of behavioural principles applied to drive success. In case you are not one of the 150 million users worldwide (or 2 million in Australia), LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals, and much of its success I believe is due to how it engages its users.
Well, another social media site is taking the world by storm. This time it's Pinterest, and it's generating business press because of phenomenal growth in site visitation.

The sweaty business of behavioural change

Author: Bri Williams on 
Imagine you are watching a focus group. The topic is hygiene and in particular, how your gym can get people to wipe their sweat off the equipment. Low adherence to the policy has been causing complaints and some health issues around the club. The discussion goes as expected, with everyone agreeing they would feel revolted if they unknowingly used a machine that has not been wiped down, and all agreeing that they, of course, always wipe theirs off.

Taking the shot: How to overcome our innate fear of losing

Author: Bri Williams on 
Is too much tennis barely enough? I have been pigging out on the Australian Open over the last couple of weeks, watching elite sportspeople do battle, pitting their physical and mental strength against that of their opponents. 

Converting browsers to buyers: Lessons from a food charity

Author: Bri Williams on 
What's the cost of your favourite meal?  $10? $25? That is the question posed by WeFeedBack as part of a clever online App that turns charitable intention into donating behaviour and which serves as a great case study for businesses wanting to turn browsers into buyers.

A reading list for the Christmas break

Author: Bri Williams on 
As we head into the Christmas break, I thought it would be worthwhile to note some of the books I have found most helpful on behaviour and behavioural economics. A word of warning though, once you read these books the Boxing Day sales will never seem the same.

Meet Santa: The master behavioural economist

Author: Bri Williams on 
Just think, a jolly fat man in a red suit gets billions of people to spend billions of dollars on people they may only see once a year to commemorate someone else's birthday. This guy's a genius!

Should you charge customers an “explanation fee”?

Author: Bri Williams on 
Retailers are doing it tough. Shoppers are coming in, speaking at length with the shop assistant about what the widget does and does not do, only to then leave the store and buy the widget cheaper online. What's a retailer to do? How do they provide customer service but not lose the sale?

How private labels are lulling us into higher prices

Author: Bri Williams on 
There has been quite a bit of press lately about the rise of private labels (house brands) in Australian supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths, and speculation about what this means for brand manufacturers.

Unblocking the sale
Author: Bri Williams on 
One of the biggest barriers to purchase is fear that you are going to miss out on a better deal. As consumers we sweat the price, wondering whether we should hold off and wait for the item to go on special. But as businesses, we want to lock in the sale today, so how can you unblock your customers to get them to buy?

Stop bitching about boring presentations and do something!

Author: Bri Williams on
Business presentations. Hands up if you've ever sat through a dull, overly wordy Powerpoint presentation about which all you can remember is the boredom? If anyone asked you what the content contained you'd draw a blank.

Time poor? It’s time to rethink what time means

Author: Bri Williams on
We have cars to expedite travel, video conferencing to facilitate remote meetings, microwaves to speed food preparation, computers to process information, the internet to provide immediate answers, and smartphones to make answers portable and immediate. So as a small business owner, why are you feeling more time poor than ever? The good news is that it’s not just you, it’s your customers too.

How to introduce a charge for a free service

Author: Bri Williams on
SmartCompany's exploration last week of News Limited's introduction of a paywall included my thoughts on how the newspaper giant could use behavioural economics to transition their service from free to paid.

Keeping abreast of customer lapse

Author: Bri Williams on
A reminder to us all that a serious message can sometimes best be conveyed using humour – say hello to the "Your Man Reminder" app that has been released by Rethink Breast Cancer to encourage women to check their breasts regularly.

Pricing psychology is such an important part of every business and behavioural economics can go a long way towards understanding why customers react to deals the way they do. Here are eight lessons from how my gym botched the deal.

I don't drink beer. I don't follow rugby. I am not into gaming. So why on earth have I become addicted to the Heineken Rugby World Cup iPhone game?

We've all been there, with the customer who soaks up an inordinate amount of time and energy without spending enough for you to justify the level of resourcing.

How the sexes buy booze

Author: Bri Williams on
An article on the gender difference in booze buying behaviour grabbed my attention the other week. "Cheap Booze for him" headlined a story about some Roy Morgan research that identified that blokes were driven by bargains, whereas women sought helpful customer service ("Cheap Booze for him" by Inga Gilchrist, MXNews 4/7/11). The article quoted bar duty manager David Dearlove as explaining that emotions were the difference, where "females want more from a situation, so they want to be waited on. Whereas guys just say 'Give me my beer' and they're done." Very hunter-gatherer!

Why we hide behind big, boring reports

Author: Bri Williams on
I recently read an interesting piece called Tell Me Something I Don't Know: Why MR is Comprehensive, Accurate, and Often Boring‏, in which the author Yi Kang laments the dull and contrived nature of most market research.

Tips for introducing a service fee

Author: Bri Williams on
Debating whether you should introduce a fee of some kind to cover a service you provide? There are obvious financial advantages to your bottom line, but is it worth the negative reaction you may get from customers? Here are three behavioural principles that will help you consider your options.


Five tips for better customer service

Author: Bri WIlliams on
This weekend I visited a café famous for being one of the first to bring real coffee to Melbourne. But in my estimation, that business is surviving on its heritage alone. Both the product and, more strikingly, the service left a lot to be desired.

With all the action on the stock market last week, I thought it would be an opportune time to look at the behavioural aspects of share trading.

The perils of confirmation bias

Author: Bri Williams on
Imagine you are a business leader who has just experienced the workplace equivalent of Melbourne Football Club's humiliating failure to perform to expectation. In the AFL club's case, they were thrashed by 186 points by Geelong and there are now calls for the coach to resign.

Will the carbon tax change business behaviour?

Author: Bri Williams on
Curious to know how the Australian Federal Government's proposed carbon tax will be viewed by behavioural economics? Political views aside, here's the run down...

Are you the next News of the World?

Author: Bri Williams on
We are all susceptible to what has happened at the News of the World, the top-selling British Sunday newspaper that was shut down on the back of alleged phone tapping.

Firing a customer: What holds us back?

Author: Bri Williams on
Having recently devoured Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week, I have been contemplating one of the suggestions he makes for optimising your time – firing some customers. 

Three price rise tips from behavioural economics

Author: Bri Williams on
The Australian financial year has clicked over, and with it no doubt some tweaks to profit and loss. Your opportunity this year is to use behavioural economics to rethink one of the most common activities associated with this time of year: introducing a price rise.