There are many reasons why people fail to take actions they know they should, like saving for a pension, but an understanding of the theory of planned behaviour can help brands overcome this reluctance.

Developed in 1991 by Dutch psychologist Icek Azjen, the theory acknowledges that even if people express a positive intention to do a defined behaviour, they might not ultimately take any action.

Azjen argued that this could be explained by the idea of behavioural control and that if we do not feel that we will be successful when we undertake a certain behaviour then we will choose to do nothing at all since the prospect of failure is highly unmotivating.

Writing for WARC, Dr Bob Cook, board director at Firefish, outlines how behaviour is controlled by intentions, which vary in their strength and which are influenced by three factors:

• behavioural attitudes about the outcome of the behaviour and the value placed upon the outcome;

• the individual’s subjective norms (their perception of how others would view the behaviour); and

• perceived behavioural control (the extent to which they feel they can actually perform the behaviour successfully).

For more details, read Dr Bob Cook’s article in full: How do you get young people to save for the future?

“The theory suggests that in order to change the behaviour, you need to change the behavioural attitudes through communication and the experiences you deliver,” Cook explains.

One aspect of this is to make a behaviour seem commonplace, even if it’s not. (Where a behaviour is widespread, marketers can use injunctive social norms – what others believe or approve of and therefore what we also feel we should believe – to encourage laggards.)

Offering clear benefits alone are not enough, as the pensions case demonstrates. Brands need to get smarter and address the concerns that are holding people back from acting.

“They need to be as eye-catching and adaptable to people’s lives as possible,” says Cook.

Sourced from WARC