Behavioural Economics: Reflective behaviour

Oliver Sweet
Ipsos MORI

Brands applying behavioural economics to consumer habits should look for those moments that make consumers consider their behaviour by introducing personalised elements.

We think far less than we think that we think.' 'We're not as smart as we think we are.' These are two common phrases that act as the core of the behavioural economics books that serve to make the reader feel stupid and the author sound clever. The premise of behavioural economics is that we often act without thinking, and then try to justify or rationalise what we just did – which presents some obvious challenges for the research industry.

And the phrases are well supported by experiments and demonstrations that show that we conduct around 99% of our daily behaviours on autopilot. If someone throws you a ball, you catch it. You don't think about catching it; you just do, because there is a 'reptilian', 'System 1', 'instinctive' part of the brain that allows you to catch it. Making a cup of coffee every morning is the same – we do it on autopilot and we actually remember very few details about how we did it this morning.