Category

Customer Behaviour

Behavioural Design applied to shaping customer behaviour

The SUE Influence Framework© Explained

The SUE Influence Framework© explained

By All, Behavioural Science Insights, Citizen Behaviour, Customer Behaviour, Employee behaviour, Personal Behaviour

The SUE | Influence Framework© is a powerful mental model we developed at SUE to analyse the forces that shape behaviour systematically. The framework will provide you with all the human insights you need to develop ideas for behavioural change. A deeper understanding of the forces that prevent people from change or boost behavioural change is essential to influence minds and shape behaviour. In this blog post, we explain the model step-by-step and illustrate it with lots of examples.

 

1. How does influence work?

For a complete overview of the essence of behavioural design, I want to urge you to read our blog “What is behavioural design“. For this blogpost, it suffices to understand that you need three ingredients for successful behavioural change: 

  1. Understand how people think and how they make decisions. (cognitive psychology)
  2. Know how you can analyse the forces that shape people’s behaviour (SUE | Influence Framework©)
  3. Learn how you can come up with ideas for behavioural change 

One of the biggest misconceptions of behavioural design is that it’s limited to this third ingredient. Think about all the persuasion techniques in the field of interface design and UX to boost online sales. Booking.com has turned these techniques into an art form

However, if you don’t consider what happens inside the human mind you try to influence, you can use as many persuasion tactics as you want; you’re not going to be successful. 

Let me illustrate this with an example: You can use all the scarcity, authority, social proof in the world to persuade me to make my next city trip with Flixbus. But as long as you haven’t addressed my (probably irrational) prejudice that travelling by bus coach will be a social nightmare, full of annoying people, my brain will stay locked for every attempt to change my behaviour.

Flixbus

 

2. The forces that shape behaviour

The best way to think of the SUE | Influence Framework© is to think of it as a tool that brings the dynamic forces to the surface that shape behaviour. With this framework:

 

You will understand why people do the things they do and what prevents them from changing their behaviour.

Understanding these forces helps you to spot opportunities for behavioural change. Only when you have armed yourself with these opportunities you can start to come up with ideas. 

To illustrate this with the example from above. Only when you consider that I have anxieties, doubts and prejudices that prevent me from travelling by coach will you have the proper insight to come up with ideas to influence my decision-making. You will ask yourself how we might take away the prejudice that cheap coach travel equals a social nightmare. 

If you want to design a successful strategy for behavioural change, you will have to work outside-in. You start with learning what happens inside people’s minds, and you adapt your intervention to this understanding. 

Would you like to power up your team or project with behavioural intelligence?

Feel free to contact us. We are happy to tell you more about our consultancy or academy. Helping you innovate, transform or grow levering insights from behavioural science in practice.

Contact us

No worries, no strings attached!

The SUE | Influence Framework© has three parts, with a total of seven elements. We will delve into these three parts below.

  1. Part 1: Current and Desired Behaviour 
  2. Part 2: The Job-to-be-Done
  3. Part 3: Pains, Gains, Comforts and Anxieties

3. Current and Desired Behaviour 

The best way to think of behavioural change is that you need to have someone (or yourself) switch from a current to desired behaviour. This sounds obvious but is actually quite challenging. Because people need to stop doing the things they do and start doing something new. Stopping is hard because your current behaviour is full of comforts. You don’t need to think about it, and your behaviour is more than often driven by habits that are difficult to control. 

Furthermore, there are several difficulties associated with new behaviour too: Am I able to do this? Do I want it? Do I trust it? Do I get it? Can I afford it? What will others think of me? 

You immediately sense that, if you want to get someone from A to B, you will have to deal with several forces at work that lock us in our current behaviour and prevent us from switching to the desired behaviour. The SUE | Influence Framework© is nothing more or less than a tool to uncover these forces.  

4. The Job-to-be-Done

If you want to understand why people do the things they do, then the Job-to-be-done framework by Clayton Christensen is essential. In a famous Harvard Business Review paper, Christensen argues that people “hire products and services” for a job that arises in their life. Understanding the “job” or “task” is the key to understanding what motivate people to do the things they do. If you want to know how to get more people to buy milkshakes in a fast-food restaurant, you need to understand the job-to-be-done for which people would come in and “hire” a milkshake. In the famous lecture below, Christensen argues that most people who buy milkshakes at a fast-food restaurant buy them because they have a long and tedious drive to work. They want something to fill their stomach while keeping the commute interesting. The milkshake does this job better than any other product. It keeps you busy for at least 10 minutes, it doesn’t crumble all over you, and you can easily keep it in your hand while steering the car. 

 

Job-to-be-Done thinking unlocks a deeper understanding of the human behind the customer.

A while ago, we discovered in a Behavioural Design Sprint we did for a health tech company that the real Job-to-be-done for people with diabetes is to live everyday life. They want to be reminded as little as possible by their disease. People with diabetes look at every product and service through the prism of this Job-to-be-done. The unconscious question they ask themselves is: Does this product help me to approach my Job-to-be-Done to live a care-free life in which I am bothered as little as possible by my disease? This insight was crucial because, until that point, our client always communicated to people as patients.

Case: Zoku Amsterdam

The founders of Zoku Amsterdam had given themselves more than two years to figure out how they could design the ultimate hospitality experience for people who needed to stay longer in a city because of their job.

 

Zoku Amsterdam - Hotel Room

 

The Job-to-be-done that Zoku took as the critical opportunity for their prototyping is that people want to feel at home. They want to feel part of the community of the city. And this experience is precisely what most hotels don’t offer you. Every hotel reminds you in everything of the fact that you’re just a passenger. Zoku designed the room with this Job-to-be-done in mind. The centrepiece of the room is a dining/working table, not the bed. Lunch and dinner at Zoku are to be consumed at a long communal table. You can invite your customers for meetings, and they have daily activities in which you can participate. More about Job-to-be-Done:

Want to learn how to design behaviour?

Join our two-day Fundamentals Course and master a hands-on method to use behavioural science to develop ideas that change minds and shape behaviour.

Check out the course

Join the 1.500 forward-thinking professionals who already graduated!

5. The forces diagram

We already argued above that the biggest challenge with designing for behavioural change is that people need to stop doing things. Furthermore, they have all kinds of insecurities and discomfort about the new behaviour we want them to perform. We have also argued that the best way to motivate them to embrace new behaviour is to connect with their deeper goals in their life (called Jobs-to-be-done). 

The third and final component of the SUE | Influence Framework© is four dynamic forces that push people towards or pull people away from the desired behaviour. The Influence Framework works with these four forces: 

  1. Pains of the current behaviour
  2. Gains of the desired behaviour
  3. Anxieties, doubts, and other barriers to the desired behaviour 
  4. Comforts of the current behaviour

Force 1: Pains

Pains are what people experience as shortcomings and frustrations related to their current behaviour.

Pains are often the problems to which a behavioural designer designs a solution. Pain and frustration trigger a propensity or willingness for change. The better you can connect with people’s pain, the higher the eagerness to change their behaviour.

In our behavioural design sprints, we often discover that they reward you with their trust if you can articulate people’s pain quite well. They appreciate that you understand their world. Every populist in the world knows that people are not interested in what you want to do. They want to feel instead that you get their pain. It’s a meme in every sales training that the best salesmen sell pain.


Force 2: Gains 

Gains are the positive consequences that people will experience when they perform the new desired behaviour.

Whenever I stay at Zoku, I can at least work in my room if I want. I can eat healthy without having to go out. I can enjoy hanging around in the big co-working living room with my laptop. I can impress my clients with the view, etcetera. These are all gains you will experience if you book at Zoku. 

However, these gains only make sense relative to the Job-to-be-Done. You appreciate the Gain of the design of your room, the shared breakfast table, the healthy food kitchen and the co-working living room because they all contribute to the Job-to-be-done of feeling at home in the city you have to stay in for work. 

Important to remember: Always connect the Pains and Gains with the Job -to-be-done

 

Case: Pains and Gains and travelling by train 

I often need to travel between Amsterdam and Belgium. I have stopped taking the car, and I only go by train these days. My Job-to-be-done is to spend my time as purposeful as possible. The Pain of driving my car is obvious: I can’t answer e-mails, write blogs, or finish reports. I’m utterly exhausted after a six-hour drive, of which I regularly spend two hours in traffic jams (Belgium is a traffic jam inferno). The Gain of travelling by train is also apparent: Travel time equals working time. I can read, write, or answer e-mails. For travellers like me, a power socket and a little table for my laptop are worth a lot.


Force 3: Comforts

Comforts are the routines and habits that get people to stick to their current undesired behaviour.

It’s not that I wouldn’t like to work out more often. And if I’m honest with myself, I do have the time to go to the gym in the morning. My only problem is that I have too many bad habits that stand in the way: I want to wake up slowly. I need to have breakfast. I need to bring my toddler to school (and she adores not cooperating). By the time I dropped her at school, my window of opportunity to go to the gym is closed. It’s already late, my stomach is full, and my mind is already at work. 

You could argue that everything is in place for me to start working out. I desire to have more energy and lose a couple of kilos (my JTBD). I feel the pain of not being fit. I know how much I enjoy the feeling of being healthy (gain), and I only have to walk 200 meters to my gym, so I can’t blame it on an inability to get there. As the co-founder of SUE, I’m pretty free to decide how I run my schedule (no anxieties). I can’t break through my comforts/ habits. What works for me is that my gym organises a 10-minute abs workout every hour. If I can make it in time to join this 10-minute class, I will probably stay a bit longer.


Force 4: Anxieties 

Anxieties are fears, doubts, prejudices and other barriers to the desired behaviour.

Anxieties could be all the things that prevent you from changing behaviour Anxieties could be related to: 

  • The desired behaviour: Too complicated, too hard, too socially uncomfortable, etc. 
  • The supplier: can I trust this supplier? 
  • My own capability: I’m not sure if I can do this or if it matches with my self-image. 
  • My environment: I don’t know what my significant others will think of this behaviour

Taking away Anxieties are often underestimated in a strategy for behavioural change. However, they form a crucial piece of the puzzle. Sometimes taking away anxiety is the last puzzle piece needed to turn an intervention into a success. Like in the Flixbus example I wrote about earlier: taking away my fears and prejudices towards coach travel and address the most critical force between me and the desired behaviour. 

Case: De Porsche Pitch

In The Perfect Pitch, a book by advertising legend Jon Steel about the art of pitching, the author shares the story of a pitch his agency won for the Porsche account. The killer insight that got them to win the agency competition was that advertising doesn’t need to persuade Porsche drivers. It needs te to convince non-drivers that Porsche drivers are not cars for men with a middle-crisis. They called it the “asshole factor” of a Porsche driver. Taking away these anxieties and prejudices towards the Porsche driver became the most genius advertising strategy ever for the brand.

Want to shape behaviour and decisions?

Then our two-day Fundamentals Course is the perfect training for you. You will learn the latest insights from behavioural science and get easy-to-use tools and templates to apply these in practice right away!

Download the brochure

Go ahead, it’s completely free of charge!

6. Working with the SUE | Influence Framework©

 The Influence Framework helps you to build empathy for your target audience. Our Behavioural Design Sprints always kick off with five or six interviews. If you interview five or six people from the target audience, you will be able to fill in your Influence Framework©. For a proper Behavioural Design interview, there’s only one simple rule of thumb:   

Past behaviour never lies

When we conduct interviews, we always try to map human journeys. What we’re looking for is how real humans think, feel and behave. How does a successful journey look like? What about a failed journey? Why did people fail? What made them feel uncertain or uncomfortable? Why didn’t they do the things they wanted to do?  

In 5 or 6 interviews, you’ll get a clear idea about the Jobs-to-be-Done, the Pains and Comforts of their current behaviour and the Gains en Anxieties of the desired behaviour. It can also be gratifying to interview extreme users. Experienced people can tell you a lot about Jobs-to-be-Dones and gains. People who are struggling can teach you a lot about pains, comforts and anxieties. When you have mapped out these forces, you can spot opportunities for behavioural change by asking yourself these five questions: 

  • How might we help people to achieve their goals? (Jobs-to-be-Done)
  • Can we come up with solutions that solve pains or frustrations that people experience (Pain) 
  • Can we break into an existing habit? Or do we need to change a problematic habit? (Comfort)
  • Which anxieties, doubts, prejudices, and other barriers do we need to take away? (Anxiety)
  • What could be the psychological value that we can create for people (Gain)

More about this topic: 

 

7. Examples

  • The best way to think about the success of Uber and Lyft – aside from a nearly unlimited supply of cheap investor capital – is that they successfully eliminated all the pain from the taxi experience. Not knowing when your car is going to arrive, not being confident about whether the cabbie will rip you off or having to negotiate about the price. They brilliantly help you to achieve your job-to-be-done to experience the city. An Uber-Gain is that you never have to worry when you go out: You order an Uber when you leave the club, and within 5 minutes, you’re back on your way home.
  • Airbnb is a much more gratifying way to experience new places. This is the ultimate traveller Job-to-be-done. The pain that is associated with hotels is that they’re anonymous. They make you feel like an outsider-tourist. The Gain of AirBnB on an emotional level is that you can feel at home abroad. This feeling gets even strengthened on a functional level: Since you do your cooking and supermarket shopping, you can feel what it is to live like a local. There are some anxieties Airbnb needs to take away, like whether the place is as good as advertised (that’s why they always demand professional pictures). A relatively new anxiety is the worry that the neighbourhood might be sick and tired of Airbnb tourists.

7. The ethics of Behavioural Design

We have argued above that a successful behavioural design strategy consists of three ingredients:

  1. A deeper understanding of human decision-making.
  2. Understanding the forces that shape behaviour.
  3. Using principles from the science of influence to come up with ideas and interventions for positive behavioural change.

The SUE | Influence Framework© is a powerful mental model for understanding why people do what they do and what prevents them from changing their behaviour. It is also the best guarantee that a strategy for behavioural change will be human-centered.

Behavioural Designers always ask themselves what they can do to help people become more successful at what they do or help them overcome their anxieties or help them break bad habits.

Suppose you take your time to build empathy with your target audience, and you use the Influence Framework to analyse their behaviour. In that case, you will always spot opportunities to design positive choices. 

PS: The mission of SUE is to unlock the potential of behavioural science to help people make better decisions in work, life and play. We use this mission as our guiding principle for everything we do. We’re very conscious that behavioural design can be a ‘dark wisdom’ and that those who master it are often the ones with the worst intentions. We don’t want to be naive that people will abuse this knowledge to manipulate people. Still, we firmly believe that the world would be much better off if we can inspire more people with a better understanding of how influence works and do positive things with this knowledge. Please check out our Behavioural Design Ethics Toolkit here.

BONUS: free cheat card 'The SUE | Influence Framework© explained'

Especially for you we've created a free cheat card 'The SUE | Influence Framework© explained'. For you to keep at hand, so you can start using the insights from this blog post whenever you want—it is a little gift from us to you.

Download cheat card

Go ahead, it’s completely free of charge!

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

sue behavioural design

5 problems with traditional user research and how Behavioural Design solves them

By All, Behavioural Science Insights, Customer Behaviour

Product, Service and Experience Designers often complain that they lack killer insights into their users. They often feel flooded with insights to the extent that they have no idea where to start. They complain that the insights often don’t inspire strategy and creativity. 

I regularly get the question about what really differentiates the Behavioural Design Method from other ways of gathering user insights. The Behavioural Design Method integrates user research, strategizing, creative exploration, and prototyping and testing in a single sprint process. We deliberately designed this process to solve some of the problems with traditional user research.

I think there are five problems with more traditional research approaches:

1. The quality and depth of the insights

The problem with traditional market research is that people have no idea what they want; they have a profoundly biased understanding of the drivers of their behaviour. Furthermore, their intentions are highly unpredictable. And yet, our surveys and focus groups rely heavily on what they tell us about themselves and what they think they will do in the future.

Behavioural Design experts take a radically different approach. Instead of asking them what people think or feel, we ask them to explore with us their past behaviour. Because past behaviour never lies. We ask them to share successful journeys and failed journeys. We often do in-depth interviews of more than 1,5 hours. During these interviews, we’re not looking for customer journeys but ‘human journeys’. In a human journey, we look for the struggles, obstacles, beliefs, prejudices, anxieties, hot triggers, habits, social pressure, seductions, and many other psychological forces that shape or sabotage the desired behaviour.

2. The switching cost between research, strategy, and design

The problem with separating research from strategy, and strategy from design, is that a great deal of value gets wasted in the handover between each stage. Every stage produces a summary, and the next team uses that summary as the new point of departure. After the insights turned into strategy and strategy turned into the design, the original insights into the users have often been watered down or were carefully selected to post-rationalize the creative idea that everyone loved.

The Behavioural Design Method is an integrated process for strategizing through prototyping. A single team of two Behavioural Design experts interview the users, analyze their behaviour, explore solutions, design and prototype interventions and test these interventions with the users. This highly structured process eliminates switching costs and puts deep human understanding at the heart of the design process.

Would you like to power up your team or project with behavioural intelligence?

Feel free to contact us. We are happy to tell you more about our consultancy or academy. Helping you innovate, transform or grow levering insights from behavioural science in practice.

Send us an email

No worries, no strings attached!

3. The disconnect of the strategy and design team from the user

The most powerful benefit of running a Behavioural Design Sprint is that we bring the psychology of the user into the design process. We always insist that our clients attend at least two in-depth interviews and a full day of prototype testing. This active engagement allows them to experience the humans they designed for: What words do they use to describe their behaviours? What are their frustrations and problems? Which barriers stand in the way of success? Which prejudices do they have about themselves or the product, service or solution? How do they describe success? Etcetera. Going through this empathy phase is an enormous source of inspiration for the team, and it gives them a deep understanding of the psychological forces they need to take into account.

The key is to make them fall in love with the user’s problems. They need to appreciate their irrationality, their difficulty sticking to habits, and their deep desire for help or intelligent support to help them to overcome temptation and laziness. Teams with a deeply human understanding of their users find it much easier to design solutions to solve these problems or help them overcome these obstacles.

4. Expert biases, groupthink and cherry-picking the insights that match our beliefs 

When user insights are summarized in a report or abstract user personas, experts often cherry-pick or bend the meaning of the insights to match their beliefs and prejudices. We tend to project our own beliefs, values and experiences onto the user, or we are overly confident that something that worked in one context will transfer to a new context.

Bringing the human into the design process and prototyping and testing our interventions eliminates expert bias. Prototyping and testing take experts out of their judgement mode by treating every idea as a hypothesis. This way of working generates a context of psychological safety for exploring fresh and unconventional ideas.

Would you like to leverage behavioural science to crack your thorny strategic challenges?

You can do this in our fast-paced and evidence-based Behavioural Design Sprint. We have created a brochure telling you all about the details of this approach. Such as the added value, the deliverables, the set up, and more. Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to help!

Download the brochure

Go ahead, there are no strings attached!

5. User personas that don’t inspire strategy and creativity

The power of the Behavioural Design Method is that we think of influence as a set of Behavioural forces. In between current and desired behaviours stand:

  • Pains we can solve
  • Gains we can generate
  • Anxieties we need to take away
  • Comforts we need to replace
  • Jobs-to-be-Done we need to fulfill

In conclusion

By plotting our understanding of the user onto the two-dimensional Influence Framework, you’ll get a much deeper understanding of the psychological forces that shape the users’ beliefs, perceptions, and behaviours.

This two-dimensional model generates a much clearer shared problem experience than traditional user personas. Personas tend to become simple narratives of people’s personalities deprived of deeper meaning. Personas become useless as a source of inspiration when everyone can project their own beliefs and preferences onto them.

 

Tom De Bruyne 

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

sue behavioural design

Three ways you are persuaded to buy a product

By All, Behavioural Science Insights, Customer Behaviour

In this weeks video, Astrid Groenewegen explains 3 ways you are being persuaded to buy a product or service. It is all about how you present the prices of your products. With the knowledge of these Behavioural Design tactics you can apply them in practice immediately to boost your own sales. 

Price estimation by anchors 

Do you want to convince someone to buy your products or services? Then knowledge of Behavioural Science is exactly what you need. The first step to get started with this is to look at your prices. No, not how much you products actually cost, but how you present them to your customers.

Did you know that we as humans are quite price clueless. We often have no idea what something should cost or what something is worth. The way our brain forms an opinion about pricing is taking cues from the environment in which the product or service is presented. A signal that gives you a reference point to base your estimation of the price of the product on is called an anchor.

“A reference point that we use to base our opinion on to buy something”

On a daily basis you are being influenced by anchors. This occurs unconsciously, so you don’t even notice it is happening to you to! This is why it is such a great tactic to use when we want to influence customers behaviour to buy our product.

Three ways you are persuaded to buy a product. 

I want to show you three ways you are being influenced by an anchor that makes you buy something.

1. The decoy effect: When there are two items for sale, the decoy item is priced in a way to make the other item (the one the manufacturer really wants to sell) seem more attractive.

Let’s say you are shopping for a coffee machine. If you are presented with two options, of which one is significantly more expensive then the other, you are probably dealing with a decoy. This tactic makes it more easy for you to choose because you probably want to cheaper version (if the quality is the same). You can use this principle to make your products more attractive. Just add another product for a much higher price to your shop so people are more attracted to your original, and now cheaper, product.

2. Presented with 3 options: People tend to choose the option in the middle.

What you need to know is that when people are presented with more than two options another phenomenon occurs. The center-stage effect: when we make decisions we tend to gravitate to the middle. You often see this in pricing plans. You are offered three options: small – medium – large. A small package might seem too little but a large package might seem too much. So our unconscious decision making brain will pick the middle option. It is important to know that you might have made a different assessment of the packages when there were only two options. You can use this to by presenting your products or services in three options. Make sure you present the most desired option for you as the middle option.

3. Shown the old price: The original high price is crossed out and replaced with the lower new price.

This final tactic you see a lot. Our unconscious brain uses the original price as an anchor. The new price will be compared to this anchor and will be perceived as a bargain. This happens automatically. We don’t stop and wonder if the new price actually is a bargain for that specific product.

So here is a tip: when you buy a product of service, be aware of anchors that increase the attractiveness of a product or service.

Watch more on YouTube

Check out the whole series on YouTube. If you like the videos, it would mean a great deal to me if you could give them a thumbs up or subscribe to my channel.

Or check out the most popular videos here

Or book a training

Learn how to influence minds and shape behaviour.

Join our most popular training the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course. You will learn the latest insights from behavioural science and you'll master an easy-to-use method to help apply behavioural science in practice right away!

Download the brochure

Go ahead, it’s completely free of charge!

How successful organisations apply Behavioural Design

By Behavioural Science Insights, Customer Behaviour, Employee behaviour

With “Start With The End”, Matt Wallaert wrote a great book on how companies could benefit from behavioural science. In the book, he evangelised the idea of the Chief Behavioural Officer (CBO), a senior executive role who manages a Behavioural Science Expert Team. Last year, I interviewed Matt at Behavioural Design Fest and asked him if he still thinks organisations need a Chief Behavioural Officer. He was in a great place to answer that question because he recently resigned as CBO himself at his former employer Clover Health. He admitted that a separate behavioural expert team led by a CBO isn’t the only or even the best approach.

Science as a process, behaviour as an outcome

What’s more important, according to Matt, is “Science as a process. and behaviour as an outcome”. Organisations that benefit from behavioural science have found a way to leverage the scientific method of the social and behavioural sciences to create better outcomes. It doesn’t matter if your job is to design products, services, customer experiences, policies or campaigns. Everything you do aims to influence people’s decisions and get them to do something. Understanding the hidden forces that affect your target group’s thoughts and decisions is critical to improving your offering.

You can’t get someone to vote for you unless you know how you can connect with their deepest fears and desires. You can’t get someone to stick to their workout unless you help them deal with all the obstacles preventing them from coming to the gym. You can’t get someone to change the way they eat unless you can change the choice architecture of what’s available. The examples are endless of how deep human understanding can make or break products, services, programs, or policies.

 

So, what is Behavioural Design?

The simple definition of Behavioural Design is that it’s a process and a method. Behavioural Design is a method for finding human insights, coming up with ideas and figuring out how to make them work. The underlying process is Design Thinking, a fancy word for the typical steps a designer would take to solve a problem: empathise with the user, define opportunities, design solutions, prototype and test the most promising ideas, and refine the design.

Read more about this in our most popular blog, “What is behavioural design”.

Want to learn how to design behaviour?

Join our two-day Fundamentals Course and master a hands-on method to use behavioural science to develop ideas that change minds and shape behaviour.

Check out the course

Join the 1.500 forward-thinking professionals who already graduated!

Two ways to set up behavioural design in an organisation

There are two approaches to how organisations try to benefit from the power of behavioural design:

  1. Decentralised: A Behavioral design Guild
  2. Centralised: A Behavioural Design Lab

The centralised approach: Behavioural Design Lab

The Behavioural Design Lab was Matt Wallaert’s setup in mind when he wrote the book “Start with the End”. The idea is to set up a separate lab with a small group of behavioural experts that would work independently of the business units. The mission of a lab is usually to generate best practices by tinkering with landing pages, letters, communication and services. They are commissioned to set up experiments to generate evidence of how a nudge here and a reframing there can make a huge difference.

This setup’s advantage is its most significant disadvantage: Knowledge and know-how remain siloed. Furthermore, the successes the labs generate are often incremental and highly tactical. You always hear the same little success stories like the written post-its on a questionnaire (reciprocity) or the social proof cues on the payment reminder.

We believe that there’s a much more powerful way to harness the power of behavioural design in organisations.

 

The decentralised approach: Behavioural Design Guild. 

The opposite approach is to form a guild or chapter of Behavioural Design Leads. The Behavioural Design Experts are part of the multidisciplinary business teams in this approach. In addition to roles like Product Owner, Scrum Master, and UX expert, you would also have a Behavioural Design Lead. They would be responsible for gathering human insights, defining behavioural outcomes, setting up workshops to come up with ideas, and organising prototype testing. They would work on every step of the insight, design and implementation process to add behavioural intelligence.

A guild is a group of experts who share the same interest but don’t work in the same teams. They get together regularly to share ideas, learn from each other’s best practices, and deepen their skills.

There are two significant advantages to this approach. First of all, it’s being applied to the things that matter: actual products, services and communication with the customer. When used successfully, its effects can directly be measured by the KPI’s that matter to the organisation: acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, cost-saving, and profit.

Secondly, everyone in the team gets to experience how taking the irrationality of the customer into perspective can be incredibly interesting, fun and rewarding. In turn, this will fuel overall excitement to do more with behavioural design.

Want to become your team's Behavioural Design expert?

We have created a brochure that explains all the ins and outs of the Advanced Course that teaches you all the ropes of setting up and facilitating Behavioural Design projects. From the program to the former participants. From the investment to the needed time commitment: it's all in there.

Download the brochure

Go ahead, there are no strings attached!

So what to do next?

The first step is to train yourself in Behavioural Design. You can do that at our Behavioural Design Academy or at training programs that our competitors offer. Don’t study too hard on the science, but check the practice instead. In other words: you don’t need to know or learn every scientific principle or discovery. You need to understand how to use those principles in practice to analyse behaviour and develop ideas for interventions.

The second step is forming a guild and learning from each other through peer-to-peer coaching. Again, you can hire SUE to help with this practice or hire a coach.

Do a Behavioural Design Sprint

We have created a brochure telling you all about the details of the Behavioural Design Sprint. Such as the set-up, the investment, the time commitment, and more. Please, feel free to contact us any time should you have any further questions. We are happy to help!

Download the brochure

Go ahead, there are no strings attached!

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

sue behavioural design
What Is Behavioural Design

What is Behavioural Design

By All, Behavioural Science Insights, Citizen Behaviour, Customer Behaviour, Employee behaviour, Personal Behaviour

This blog post is an extended introduction to Behavioural Design. You will get a clear idea about what it is, how you can use it in your professional and personal life to influence minds and shape behaviour, and what you could do to learn more about it. Moreover, this blog post is the perfect entry to most other blogposts we published on the SUE Behavioural Design website.

 

1. Behavioural Design is about influence

How do you influence minds and shape behaviours? How do you change other people’s, as well as your behaviours? How do you help people to make better decisions? Isn’t it strange that the majority of all of our behaviours and communication aims at influencing other people? Yet, at the same time, we have no clue about the principles and laws that govern influence?

 

Behavioural Design is a systematic understanding of how people think and how they make decisions. This understanding forms the basis of thinking about interventions that lead to behavioural change. Maybe you want to influence the behaviour of your partner or children. You might want to influence your colleagues or managers. Some people like to develop a healthy habit for themselves or want to live a more sustainable life. Maybe you want to influence customer behaviour or win elections. No matter what the subject is, you can all think of them as a behavioural design challenge.

 

So what is Behavioural Design? The most pragmatic definition of Behavioural Design we came up with so far is the following:

 

Behavioural Designers combine Psychology, Design, Technology, and Creative Methods to find out why people do the things they do and to figure out through experimentation how to activate them to change their behaviour.

 

2. Behavioural Design is a method

The best way to think about Behavioural Design is to think of it as the combination of Design Thinking with the Science of Influence. Design Thinking is the method through which designers solve problems. Designers start with empathy. Through interviews and observations, they try to “fall in love with the problem”: Why do people do what they do and where could we spot opportunities for improvement? This insight phase forms the groundwork for creativity. First, designers develop as many ideas as possible, and then they prototype the most promising ones. They take the prototypes back to the real world and test them with real people to learn and observe how the prototype influences the targeted behaviour. Design Consultancy Ideo, the godfathers of Design Thinking, explain the process like this:

When you combine the method of design thinking with behavioural science, you will get design thinking on steroids or Behavioural Design Thinking. Because a better understanding of human psychology you will get:

1) Better insights into why people do what they do;
2) Better ideas on where to look for solutions;
3) Better prototypes, because you will have a much sharper understanding of what specific behavioural outcome you’re designing for.

At SUE the essence of what we do is to train the Behavioural Design Method© at our Behavioural Design Academy and at in-company training and we run the Behavioural Design Method© in Behavioural Design Sprints together with our clients.

More about Behavioural Design as method:

Would you like to power up your team or project with behavioural intelligence?

Feel free to contact us. We are happy to tell you more about our consultancy or academy. Helping you innovate, transform or grow levering insights from behavioural science in practice.

Contact us

No worries, no strings attached!

3. The ethics of Behavioural Design

Behavioural Design is dark wisdom. The difference between positive influence and manipulation is a very fragile line. In the end, we have to be aware that Behavioural Design is about using deliberate action and techniques to influence the behaviour of the other in the direction you want.

The problem is that those who want to design for good quite often feel bad about using dark forces. Whereas those who use this dark wisdom to manipulate and mislead are usually much more motivated, advanced, and have fewer scruples about its application. Think about how extreme-right populists exploit fear and uncertainty, or think about how technology companies use our vanities and our desire for social recognition and belonging to the extent that it leads to (social media) addiction.

The world of interaction design is full of “dark patterns“, which are manipulative ways to present choices to us in such a way that they manipulate us into making a specific decision, whether we want it or not.

 

Doctor Evil

At SUE, we are very sensitive to this ethical component. We even encoded it in our mission. The SUE mission is “to unlock the power of behavioural psychology to help people make better decisions in work, life and play”. Our point of departure for designing interventions for behavioural change always starts with the question, “How might we help people to make better choices? Moreover, how could we create products, services, and experiences to contribute to helping people achieve their goals or dreams? Our commitment to this mission is sacred, even to the point that we refuse to accept work that doesn’t match this mission. You can find more about this way of thinking below at “5. Outside-in Thinking“.

More on the ethical side of Behavioural Design:

4. Behavioural Design is about designing choices

Multiple levels of influence
In a certain sense, the term ‘Behavioural Design’ is a little bit misleading. Behavioural change is the outcome we aim for when we design an intervention. When we want to achieve this outcome, we need to create interventions on multiple levels at the same time:

  1. Design attention: How do you make sure something catches people’s attention?
  2. Trigger curiosity: How do you get people to invest time and mental energy to learn more about what you want from them?
  3. Change the perception: how do you get something to stand out as the attractive option between other choices? How do you design the desired perception?
  4. Design the experience: How do you get someone to have a positive feeling? How can you reduce stress or uncertainty?
  5. Trigger the behaviour: How do you trigger the desired behaviour? How can you increase the chance of success that people act upon your trigger?
  6. Change habits: How can you get people to sustain the behaviour? Most behaviours require much more than a one-time action. Think about saving, living healthy, exercising, recycling, collaborating, etc.

Thinking fast and slow

This simple list of influence levels teaches us that:

Behavioural Design is all about how we design choices and how we present those choices.

Behavioural Design has everything to do with human decision-making and how the brain works. The cornerstone of human decision-making is the masterpiece “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Kahneman and Tversky. This book – awarded with the Noble Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 – is the fascinating journey of the collaboration between two Israeli psychologists and their discoveries of how the mind works. This book is the ultimate work on thinking about thinking.

Kahneman and Tversky discovered that about 96% of our thinking is automatic and unconscious. Our brain is making most of the decisions for us by taking shortcuts – which they call heuristics -, with the goal of not having to invoke the 4% bandwidth of our slow, rational brain. In a way:

Influencing behaviour comes down to helping people to decide without having to think. Because the more we need to think about something, the more stress we get, the less we end up making choices.

Since 2018, we now have a second psychologist in the ranks of noble prize winners. Richard Thaler built upon the work of Kahneman and Tversky and zoomed in on how to make use of System 1-System2 thinking to nudge people into better decision-making in wealth, health, and happiness.

 

Our hard-wired tendency to persuade

When it comes to our attempts to influence minds and shape behaviours, our biggest fallacy is that we always tend to persuade the other with rational arguments. The problem with persuasion is two-fold:

  1. Persuasion evokes system 2-thinking, and we don’t like that. When you try to persuade someone, you want them to think about your argument. Thinking complicates things.
  2. System 2 is the little slave of system 1: we only accept rational arguments or facts when they align with how we already think about matters. You can only persuade someone who’s already convinced.

The real challenge is to make a decision making extremely easy. More about designing choices:

Want to learn how to design behaviour?

Join our two-day Fundamentals Course and master a hands-on method to use behavioural science to develop ideas that change minds and shape behaviour.

Check out the course

Join the 1.500 forward-thinking professionals who already graduated!

5. Behavioural Designers think ‘outside-in’

When we try to influence minds and shape behaviour, the most common mistake we make is to think inside-out. We take the benefits of our product or service as our point of departure, and we try to figure out how we could pitch those benefits so that people would realize the value of what we have to offer. Behavioural Designers work the other way around.

We take the human behind the customer as our focal point, and we try to figure out what this human needs to be successful.

Which anxieties, doubts, prejudices or bad habits he holds stand in the way of embracing the desired behaviour or which pains or frustrations we could solve for him.

The SUE | Influence Framework©

We developed the SUE | Influence Framework© as a tool to do outside-in thinking systematically,. This model brings all the forces to the surface that influence the behaviour of the people for whom we need to design interventions. The Influence Framework© consists of five questions we need to answer to understand why people do what they do and how to get them to act:

  1. Job-To-Be-Done: What is the underlying goal for which people would have to embrace the new behaviour? How might we align the desired behaviour with goals that matter to them?
  2. Pains: What are possible frustrations and pains in their current behaviour, for which we need to come up with a solution?
  3. Gains: What are the benefits we have, compared with their current solutions?
  4. Anxieties: What are anxieties, doubts, prejudices or other barriers that prevent someone from embracing the new behaviour?
  5. Habits: Which habits keep them locked in their current behaviour?

Finding the answers to these questions will provide you with a blueprint of where to spot opportunities for behavioural change. In this video, you can find a brief explainer of the SUE | Influence Framework©.

 

More about outside-in thinking:

6. Behavioural Designers work with principles from the science of influence

The next step in the Behavioural Design Method© is about turning a deep understanding of the forces that explain people’s behaviours, into ideas for behavioural change.  These are two different games. Whereas the SUE | Influence Framework© uncovers the unconsciousness of people, is this part about applying principles from the science of influence to come up with solutions on how to change behaviour. We have developed a helpful tool for this: the SUE | SWAC Tool©:

It is foremost a very easy-to-use tool. It explains which four pieces of the puzzle you need to solve to create a context that will persuade someone into doing something and to have them keep doing it. What makes the tool so easy to use in practice, is that anytime you want to design for behavioural change, all you have to do is ask yourself four simple questions:

  1. How can we make sure someone WANTS to perform the new behaviour?
  2. How can we make sure someone CAN perform the new behaviour?
  3. How can we SPARK new behaviour at the moments that matter?
  4. How can we activate this new behaviour AGAIN and again?

 

When the new behaviour does not happen, at least one of those four elements is missing. The most important implication of this is that by using the SUE | SWAC Tool© as a guide you can quickly identify what stops people from performing the behaviours that you seek.

If a sufficient degree of capability (CAN) to perform a behaviour is matched with the willingness (WANT) to engage in that behaviour, all that is then needed for the behaviour to occur is to set someone into action (SPARK) at the Moments that Matter.

Maybe you notice that in the tool it says moments that matter. Not one moment, but moments. As we learned, behavioural change doesn’t happen overnight. Most of the times someone needs to be reminded of the desired behaviour more than once for it to happen in the first place. Furthermore, behaviour becomes easier when repeated. Therefore, we have to make sure we SPARK someone AGAIN and again to activate the desired behaviour. So, you need to design several interventions at multiple moments that matter. In practice your intervention strategy will look something like this:

The objective of most intervention strategies is to not only to change behaviour, but to change this new behaviour into a routine behaviour (a habit), so the new behaviour will stick.

Often your desired behaviour is new behaviour for people and that’s why it is important to spark behaviour AGAIN and again. Only then the behaviour will take place, as illustrated above as the BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE THRESHOLD. When your objective is to design repeat behaviour, it almost goes without saying that you have to make sure the desired behaviour is performed repeatedly. If you can make someone perform new behaviour over and over AGAIN, it can become automatic.

7. Behavioural Designers research, prototype, test

The more familiar you get with how the brain works and how influence works, the more you become aware that human behaviour obeys a different kind of logic than formal logic. Rory Sutherland calls this “psycho-logic” in his brilliant book Alchemy.

The way people make decisions is highly context-sensitive. These decisions are full of stories they tell themselves and full of irrational beliefs they hold. Furthermore, even the slightest difference in how something is framed can dramatically affect how people perceive the meaning. When an English native speaker says they think something is “interesting”, it usually means precisely the opposite. Whereas a non-native Dutch audience would think “interesting” means what they think it means.

The importance of doing the research yourself

That’s why research and prototyping are so important. Before you come up with an idea for behavioural change, you first need to fall in love with the problem. You observe or interview humans and try to put yourself in their shoes. You’ll be surprised about how many thoughts and beliefs you hold are projections of your limited worldview onto the world of the target audience you want to influence.

Prototyping and testing are all about finding out which variation of your intervention has the highest potential to design perception, attention, curiosity, experience, behaviour or habit. Even with the clearest of insights, you can still develop an intervention that ultimately misses its desired effect. What you thought your intervention was supposed to trigger sometimes triggers the exact opposite.

More about prototyping and testing:

Want to shape behaviour and decisions?

Then our two-day Fundamentals Course is the perfect training for you. You will learn the latest insights from behavioural science and get easy-to-use tools and templates to apply these in practice right away!

Download the brochure

Go ahead, it’s completely free of charge!

8. Domains of Behavioural Design

The number of applications for Behavioural Design is endless. Because in the end, most of the things we do as humans aim at influencing the behaviour of others. You can apply it from managing teams to the design of products. Or from getting people to buy products to changing the way they perceive a service or experience. And from the creation of financial habits, personal habits and healthy habits till the raising of children. At SUE, we’re particularly fascinated by six specific domains for behavioural change:

  • customer behaviour (product, marketing, sales)
  • citizen behaviour (government/society)
  • financial behaviour (financial independence)
  • voter behaviour (politics and government)
  • self-improvement (personal development)
  • team-behaviour (organisational design)

Most of our blogs and our weekly newsletter “Behavioural Design Digest” is about one of these topics.

 

9. Start to learn more about Behavioural Design

Now you have a deeper understanding about what Behavioural Design and how you can apply the Behavioural Design Method to influence minds and shape behaviour, there’s a couple of next steps you can take to learn more about the method:

  1. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter Behavioural Design Digest, in which we take a closer look at how influence works in daily life.
  2. Subscribe to one of the upcoming editions of our Behavioural Design Academy courses and master the SUE | Behavioural Design Method© to create next-generation, people-centred products, services, campaigns or policies.
  3. Book in-company training for your team and learn the method while applying it to a critical business challenge for your organisation.
  4. Hire SUE to run a Behavioural Design Sprint to fast-track your innovation, transformation or growth by leveraging behavioural science to develop people-centred products, services, campaign or policies with an evidence-based approach.
  5. Book SUE for a keynote or workshop (contact us).
  6. Check or frequently asked questions and discover answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

sue behavioural design
Behavioural Design Week: Baptiste Tougeron

Behavioural Design Week: Baptiste Tougeron

By All, Customer Behaviour

Our final keynote speaker at Behavioural Design Week 2021 was Baptiste Tougeron. As a Google Research Manager, he is responsible for ad effectiveness. During his session, he presented the most read whitepaper of Google worldwide: Decoding decisions. He talked about the messy decision process and how behavioural science can supercharge the attractiveness of brands. A must-see if you work in branding, marketing and advertising.

Behavioural Design Week: Baptiste Tougeron

Behavioural Design Week: Baptiste Tougeron

Purchase decision-making is not a linear process. Between the purchase trigger and the purchase, customers are exposed to much information, like reviews or social media. The Google research team tried to uncover how customers process all this information and make decisions between the purchase trigger and the purchase itself. The call it “The messy middle”.

Behavioural Design for Advertising Effectiveness
Behavioural Design Week 2021

Baptiste Tougeron: Our key take-aways

Key-take away 1: Organise the messy middle:
Between the purchase trigger and the purchase, we can identify two ’mental modes’. The Exploration Mode and the Evaluation Mode.

While the Exploration Mode expands our consideration set, the Evaluation Mode narrows down our options. People oscillate through these two mental modes, repeating them as often as they need to make a purchase decision. These two mental processes can run simultaneously or apart, but they are two distinctive processes.

Key Take-Away 2: Supercharge the brand with cognitive biases
Now that there is some order in the messy middle, we need to know how shoppers process the information. During the process of Exploration and Evaluation, cognitive biases shape their behaviour and influence their choice. In the research, six cognitive biases are prioritised:

  1. The Power of Free
  2. Social Norms
  3. Authority Bias
  4. The Power of Now
  5. Category Heuristics
  6. Security Bias 

Important conclusions to keep in mind:

  • Ensure brand presence, simply showing up can impact customer decision making when they are exploring and evaluating. (This is called the Mere Exposure Effect)
  • Intelligently (and responsibly) employ behavioural science principles to influence the decision-making process
  • Close the gap between trigger and purchase.

Baptiste Tougeron: Quotes to remember

“Purchase decision-making is not a linear process”.

“I would like to think of the messy middle as a big spaghetti plate”.

“The cool thing about behavioural science, if you put the theory into practice in different countries, the brain remains to work very similarly.”

“We are not done. We still have to explore ‘exposure’ and ‘experience’, so lookout for new research and results in 2022”.

“Playing with the six cognitive biases is not easy. You cannot choose to supercharge your brand just like that. Some biases you can influence yourself, others need to be acquired”.

Baptiste Tougeron: Further reading

Want to know more about untangling the messy middle? Make sure to read the white paper by Google, which can be found here.

 

Hungry for more Behavioural Design Fest?

Please make sure to check out our other videos of other 2021 Keynote speakers on Behavioural Design Week: Tim Versnel on designing behaviour for sustainability and Matt Wallaert who shares his experience in setting up a Behavioural Change Project within an organisation.

Or, check out our upcoming edition of Behavioural Design Fest.

Also, you can find all the videos of the keynotes of Behavioural Design Fest 2018 and Behavioural Design Fest 2019; watch and re-watch here to upgrade your Behavioural Design know-how and boost your inspiration.

Want to shape behaviour and decisions?

Then our two-day Fundamentals Course is the perfect training for you. You will learn the latest insights from behavioural science and get easy-to-use tools and templates to apply these in practice right away!

Download the brochure

Go ahead, it’s completely free of charge!

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

sue behavioural design

Why this AI influencer is freaking me out, and so it should you

By All, Customer Behaviour

So fake, it feels real

“How many people in the room think AI will eventually replace the comms professional?”, asked a speaker at the Adformatie conference this week. About 1 in 300 believed this could happen. Then she presented Lilmiquela. A famous social media influencer with over 1,6 million followers. The only detail is: Lilmiquela is not real. She is an AI that feeds itself with how real social media influencers talk on social media, she mimics the words, topics, tone, dilemma’s, and stories and quickly discovers what gains traction and what not.

She looks uncanny real. Not only in how the CGI resembles a real girl, but also in how she has real emotions, real girl problems, real thoughts about life and boys, real consumption preference, and real mood swings. Everything you would expect from your social media influencer.

What’s even more bizarre: people know she’s not real. Her makers don’t hide that she’s computer-generated. And yet, people connect with the fake persona, with the fake emotions, the fake heart-brokenness, the fake little shout-outs to the fans, the phoney consumption preference, etc. The manipulation is pretty disturbing, as you can see in the video “A weird man touched me (and I almost died)” below.

But she’s nothing more than a business model.

She’s designed to generate eyeballs for brands.

And the AI knows how to connect with our deepest fears and desires, meanwhile hooking you to the story and feeding you with brands and consumption advice….

Want to find out how behavioural science can amplify your impact?

Please contact us for a 'Sixty with SUE': an hour of non-binding advice in which we can see how we can use Behavioural Design to tackle your project challenge or strategic problem.

Book a 'Sixty'

Go ahead, it is free and there are no strings attached!

You might argue that playing to our unconscious emotions is as old as advertising. And you’re right. The only detail is: Advertising was always recognized as advertising. You knew that there was a sender who used a medium to build desirable associations around the product.

Propaganda was already a bit more tricky. The sender is trying to disguise that the stories they create about the world and about what is threatening us, are a cynical attempt to hijack our brains to gain power.

Propaganda 2.0

But this is propaganda 2.0: There’s no clear sender, There’s a smart computer who figured out how to exploit your attention and your emotion with the sole purpose to sell you a lifestyle. It doesn’t tell you: we’re trying to sell ou a dream. Instead, it says: I want to be your best friend! Let’s connect and talk to me.

I have always been fascinated by technological progress. But there was a  point in time a couple of years ago where it became evident to me that technology has its own will. And, although it keeps insisting on the exact opposite, its intention is not to serve us. Instead, its will is to shape our thoughts, emotions and behaviour for commercial or governmental control.

The future is already here

Lilmiquela should freak us all out. She is the evidence of how advanced behavioural engineering has become in only a few years. Shoshana Zuboff argues in her epic book on “surveillance capitalism” that a couple of years ago, we were the product Facebook and Google sold to advertisers. But now we have become the ground material for the algorithms. Through the free products we so happily use, they build such a massive amount of behavioural data that, once fed into AI, we – humanity – will effectively become what the comedian Bill Hicks once called “a virus with shoes”.

It’s not because your not paranoid, that it doesn’t mean they’re not after you.

BONUS: free ebook 'How to Convince Someone who Believes the Exact Opposite?'

Especially for you we've created a free eBook 'How to Convince Someone who Believes the Exact Opposite?'. For you to keep at hand, so you can start using the insights from this blog post whenever you want—it is a little gift from us to you.

Download ebook

Go ahead, it’s completely free of charge!

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

sue behavioural design
Image depicting the idea of an extreme user

The importance of extreme users in research

By All, Customer Behaviour

The importance of
extreme users in research

Image depicting the idea of an extreme user

One of the biggest illusions of Market Research is that you need to interview “average consumers”. That’s absurd. What you’re looking for in qualitative research is interesting insights to fall in love with the problem. If you want to spot interesting opportunities for innovation, you will find those opportunities much faster when you interview extreme users. Extreme users are perfectly capable of telling you what they figured out, how they overcome barriers, what problems they needed to solve and how you can help them. Moreover: Roger’s  Law of Diffusion of Innovation – you know: innovators, early adopters, etc… – tells us that every new product or service aways needs to attract a first group of early adopters in the fringes, before it can spread to the masses. Without traction, hype or social proof from the mavericks, most people won’t move.

Scratching your own itch.

The history of innovation is packed with stories of extreme users who  launched a killer innovation by scratching their own itch. Did you know that the sandwich is named after the Earl of Sandwich. The man happened to be such an addict gambler, that he instructed his staff to serve his lunch in a way that he didn’t had to leave the game table. The rest is history.

A similar story unfolded in Antwerp. Back in 1951, a guy named Theo Maertens entered his favourite snackbar one night in a drunk state, asking for a sandwich with minced beef and topped with everything they had available. That happened to be pili-pili powder, tabasco, cayenne-pepper, pickles, salt, ketchup worchester sauce and chopped onions. The new sandwich was an instant hit. People liked it so much, one of his friends shouted: I want a sandwich, just like the one Martino had. Martino was Theo Maertens’ nickname. The snackbar owner decided that the new sandwich was going to be named after its first customer: Martino. Today there is no snackbar in Belgium where you won’t find a Martino. It’s one of the best sold sandwiches in the country.

broodje Martino

Behavioural Design is the missing layer

Join our Behavioural Design Academy and learn how to positively influence minds and shape behaviour

Extreme users know their pain better than average users

Another great story is the success of the HITT-training (High Intensity Interval Training). Allegedly HITT was designed by an ultra-runner, whose marriage was about to burst, because his wife couldn’t cope anymore with the endless hours he was away from home training. So the guy went on a search for new ways to spend less time training, but with similar effects. He discovered that High Intensity Intervals training was as good – if not better – as long duration runs, but they only took a fraction of the training time.

Another example in the same category is Curves. One of the fastest growing and highly profitable fitness concepts in the world. They figured out how to connect with a large group of women, who felt very unfordable training in the gym. Lot’s of women feel being looked at, and lot’s of women feel shame about their bodies. Curves solved that problem: It’s a women only concept, no fancy fitness gear and women train in a circle, so everyone gets to see everyone, which quickly helps them to overcome shame and stress.

You’re not looking for validity, you’re looking for interestingness

If you want to come up with new value propositions: always talk to extreme users. For the simple reason that their pain is a magnified version of the average consumer pain. “Scratching your own itch”, is an innovation mantra that lot’s of innovators can relate to.

In the end, every successful innovation is nothing more than a better way to take  away pain in people’s life, a better way to solve their problems, or a better way to help people to achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams.  The big problem with market research is that it’s so obsessed with averages and validity, that it forgets that its real goal is to spot interesting human insights and opportunities for interventions. Extreme users will provide you with those.

More blogs on innovation and research:

How to design an innovation habit

sue behavioural design

Learn how to make the science of influence work for you

Join our Behavioural Design Academy and master the skills to shape minds and influence behaviour. We trained people over 30+ countries and have a 9,2 satisfaction rate. Check out our free brochure. Don’t miss out on making your growth a success.

sue behavioural design
Nassim Taleb's great thinking on hedging against group-think

The psychological price of being rational is being unlikeable

By All, Customer Behaviour

Rational decision makers have to dare to
fight common sense and social norms.

Nassim Taleb's great thinking on hedging against group-think

This blogpost is about how being rational in organizations is actually pretty difficult. It comes at a high social cost. Because rational people need to defy groupthink, defy authority-based decision making and defy social pressure. That’s one of the reasons why innovation is so difficult to pursue.

When do you pull the Goalie?

Imagine you’re a coach of a hockey team. Your team is one goal behind and we’re approaching the end of the game. You know you need to take a gamble and change the goalie for a field player. Butthe question is when. When do you pull the goalie?

If you approach it rationally, the answer would be 5-10 minutes before the end of the game. That’s how you maximize the chance of making a difference. But no coach would dear to do this. Because if it goes wrong, everyone will blame the coach for the mad and unexpected move.

The example was told by Malcolm Gladwell in an episode of his podcast Revisionist History. It reminded me of another story, told by Nassim Taleb in the Black Swan. Before Taleb (see picture) turned philosopher, he used to work as a trader on Wall Street. His strategy was to bet against improbable events. He would take the money of his clients and he would put it all in insurance that would pay out in the case something unexpected happened, like a crisis. He knew the money would eventually pay out big time, he just never knew when the improbable “black swan” event would happen. But he just waited and did absolutely nothing.

It drove his managers and his clients mad. They expected him to work actively to make money for them. The idea that he would sit on his ass to wait for a crisis event to happen – which would pay out enormously – was just unbearable to them. It was a perfectly rational strategy, but Taleb had to develop a very thick skin in order to be able to stick to it.

Behavioural Design is the missing layer

Join our Behavioural Design Academy and learn how to positively influence minds and shape behaviour

To be rational is to be unlikeable

The problem with acting rational is that it very often clashes with social norms. You will get much less problems for failing by following a strategy everyone else would follow, then you would if you followed an unexpected path, even though it makes sense from a rational point of view.

My partner Astrid decided to stop working at the office a couple of months ago. She realized that being at the office prevented her from doing the things she should be doing to create value for SUE. The constant distractions were killing for her productivity and her mood. So she started working at home. It took her three months to stop feeling guilty about it.

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, the smartest investors in the world, spend most of their time in the office on reading. They figured that investing most of their valuable time in understanding more about the world, would eventually pay off in smarter decisions. Berkshire Hattaway made 242 Billion Dollars of profit in 2017.  Unlike most investors, they buy companies with the intention to hold on to them forever. They are in the business for the long run.

Corporate culture doesn’t like the crazy ones

The problem with acting hyper-rational is that you need to be able to deal with social pressure. Very often, people will not like you for breaking the social norm. And when your choice leads to failure, they will find it very easy to blame you for your stubbornness. I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s so difficult for corporations to innovate. Innovation needs stubborn people who don’t mind the social pressure to conform to corporate norms. “Think Different”, probably the best commercial ever made, actually pays tribute to those people with the following legendary quote:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

sue behavioural design

Learn how to make the science of influence work for you

Join our Behavioural Design Academy and master the skills to shape minds and influence behaviour. We trained people over 30+ countries and have a 9,2 satisfaction rate. Check out our free brochure. Don’t miss out on making your growth a success.

sue behavioural design
growth hacking

Growth Hacking vs. Behavioural Design

By Behavioural Science Insights, Customer Behaviour

We often get questions on the difference between Behavioural Design and Growth Hacking. The short answer is that Behavioural Design is a method to come up with insights and ideas, while Growth Hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across digital marketing channels. Whereas Growth Hacking can provide you with the tactics, Behavioural Design provides you with the ideas and strategies to make the tactics work. Let’s explore this core idea a bit deeper.

Behavioural design is about seduction and persuasion, while Growth Hacking is about conversion.

A couple of years ago, I attended a fascinating conference in Estonia called Digital Elite Camp. It was probably one of the most exciting conferences I have ever attended (ok maybe except for our Behavioural Design Fest). The conference brought together digital marketers from all over the world to get inspired by growth hacking. I loved every second of it. I immediately sensed that I was looking at the avant-garde in marketing.

Geeks were geeking out on landing page optimisation, e-mail performance, search ranking, conversion rate optimization, etc. Everyone was obsessed with A/B testing and with building, measuring and learning. You could sense the joy of the desire to overthrow old school thinking on marketing, advertising and sales. This was where the future was happening.

Except for one thing.

I still vividly remember the crappy landing page design, the triviality of the incremental changes and the cheapness of the sales triggers with which they experimented. I felt that, although it looks incredibly cool to figure out how to get a conversion funnel right, it was too much conversion tactics and too little understanding of persuasion and seduction. They got lost in tools and tactics, while they didn’t care too much for how the bits and bolt of how seduction work.

Imagine what would happen if you would hand over the problem of seducing a girl to a computer scientist. His approach would make a lot of sense from a logical point of view, but chances that you’ll end up with a smack in the face are pretty high.

Imagine what would happen if you would hand over the problem of seducing a girl to a computer scientist. His approach would make a lot of sense from a logical point of view, but chances that you’ll end up with a smack in the face are pretty high.

Behavioural Design is about understanding how to create magic with the Growth Hackers toolbox

What I love about growth hacking is that it brought a bit of creativity to digital marketing. The problem with digital marketing is that to do it properly, you need to get a lot of things right. It’s not enough to know how to find audiences if you don’t know how to attract them. It’s not enough to attract if you don’t know how to convert them into qualified leads. It’s not enough to have qualified leads if you don’t know how to nurture them into trying out your products and services. And it’s not enough to sell to a customer if you don’t know how to turn them into excited, happy regular users.

Growth hackers looks at all these requirements in a more holistic way and try to figure out how to connect them in such a way that the tactics that are deployed actually lead to business growth.

You Suck At Photoshop

But learning ‘growth hacking’ is a bit like learning Photoshop. I can teach you all the tools and techniques to start working with Photoshop, but if you have no clue on how composition, perspective and aesthetic works, you’ll use the tools to create shit.

With the right tools and tactics, you can optimize for a local, but not for a global maximum. And the missing clue in growth hacking is insight in the human psychology of decision making. If you don’t understand how people make decision and why they do things or don’t do things, your growth hacking tactics are not going to to trigger the customer or user behaviour needed for growth.

If you don’t understand how people make decisions and why they do things or don’t do things, your growth hacking tactics are not going to trigger the customer or user behaviour needed for growth.

The Behavioural Design Method helps you to find radical new ways to connect with a user motivation or goal. It helps you to understand which barriers you need to address, how to make the desired outcome easy, how to add some motivational boosters to the mix and how to communicate the right series of triggers at the right time and place.

Case: Convert people for a Debt Relief Programme

Let me give you an example. In a project we did for an NGO that helps people to get into a free Debt Relief Programme, we discovered that the only way to break through people’s resistance and to turn audiences into leads, was to connect with them in three steps:

  1. Establish trust by connecting with their pain and frustrations
  2. Reduce uncertainty by claiming that all counsellors have been in debt too and know how you feel
  3. Motivate action by making it OK to have a get-to-know each other conversation first to see if it could work

Every other way of pitching the service was doomed to fail because people didn’t want to be framed as people who need help. Imagine a growth hacker optimising both the website and the digital campaign, not knowing this crucial insight. He would optimize within the boundaries of a useless strategy.

Want to learn how to apply behavioural science in practice?

We have created a brochure that explains all the ins and outs of the Fundamentals Course. From the program to the former participants. From the investment to the people behind the Academy: it's all in there.

Download the brochure

Go ahead, there are no strings attached!

Short Summary: Behavioural Design versus Growth Hacking

  • What behavioural designers and growth hackers have in common is a methodology of creative experimentation to figure out what works and what doesn’t
  • Whereas Growth Hacking is about the tactics and the tools, Behavioural Design is about how to create meaning and magic with the tools
  • Behavioural Design is a method, and Growth Hacking is a process. It’s not because you have a process, that you know what you’re doing
  • Behavioural designers and growth hackers should have sex because they will make beautiful babies.

One more thing: Don’t call yourself a growth hacker (or a behavioural designer)

Growth hackers are first and foremost digital marketers. They use the creative method of growth hacking to come up with smarter ideas for digital marketing faster. A Growth Hacker without technical digital marketing skills is worthless. The same goes for Behavioural Design.

I’m not convinced we should call ourselves Behavioural Designers. We are product-, marketing-, sales- or UX-professionals who use the Behavioural Design Method to come up with better products, services, communication and policies. I think that’s a better way to put it. We have also created a post on the difference between Behavioural Design and Design Thinking.

BONUS: free cheat card Value Perception

This cheat card will show you how we (unconsiously) value objects and people. It is a helpful tool if you want to hack your growth and power it up with Behavioural Design. For you to download, and use right away—a little gift from us to you.

Download cheat card

Go ahead, it’s completely free of charge!

How do you do. Our name is SUE.

Do you want to learn more?

Suppose you want to learn more about how influence works. In that case, you might want to consider joining our Behavioural Design Academy, our officially accredited educational institution that already trained 2500+ people from 45+ countries in applied Behavioural Design. Or book an in-company training or one-day workshop for your team. In our top-notch training, we teach the Behavioural Design Method© and the Influence Framework©. Two powerful tools to make behavioural change happen in practice.

You can also hire SUE to help you to bring an innovative perspective on your product, service, policy or marketing. In a Behavioural Design Sprint, we help you shape choice and desired behaviours using a mix of behavioural psychology and creativity.

You can download the Behavioural Design Fundamentals Course brochure, contact us here or subscribe to our Behavioural Design Digest. This is our weekly newsletter in which we deconstruct how influence works in work, life and society.

Or maybe, you’re just curious about SUE | Behavioural Design. Here’s where you can read our backstory.

sue behavioural design
This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site.