2016 Net Gain – When Behavioral Science Turns the Classical Marketing Model on its Head

The following are notes from Alex Hunt’s Net Gain 2016 presentation: “When Behavioral Science Turns the Classical Marketing Model on its Head”. This post has had limited editing and hence there will be typos.

Problem with today’s marketing – we are advertising by hitting people over the head with product benefits.

However, we think much more than we like to admit – more like Homer Simpson than we would like to acknowledge.

Alex provided a quote (can’t recall from who) saying that humans think in the same way cats swim – can but would rather not to.

Reference to System 1 thinking (Kahneman reference) that Hunt says that 95% of our decisions and actions are based on System 1 thinking, and occasionally System 2 comes into play.


Fame – it a brand comes readily to mind, it must be a good choice – current brand share. Doesn’t really speak to product benefits though.

Kahnman “Nothing in life is as important as when you are thinking about it.”

Example – Hunt has moved to suburbs so his amount of driving has increased, which means they are more likely to get in a car accident. However, they are not concerned about it – instead spend $50 per month on home security, even chances of a traffic accident air much higher.

Why do they make this decision? A: Fear of home invasion is top of mind.

Example: A mobile company in the UK that was in fifth place (called 3), gave a brief to their ad company to “make the brand famous” – had an add with a dancing pony, which went viral. Helped improve brand.


Feeling – If i feel good about a brand, it must be a good choice -predicts fruture brand share

Example – did a presentation in front of a room of accountants, and asked how many had done a cost-benefit analysis before buying their last car. Only one had – clear example that system 2 hadn’t been used in a very important choice.

Commercial example:

Most effective ad out of 500 in 2014 in how it made people feel. One year after campaign launch sales had doubled in France. Put emotion front and centre, not product-focused at all, and by making people laugh had the most successful ad. Take-away: better to ask what people think about a brand than ask product detail questions.

Fluency – if I recognize a brand quickly, it must be a good choice – gives you the toolkit to build brand share.

Example – British Airways in 80s stood for trust, and used the Union Jack as their symbol – a shortcut for trust. They ended up removing it – Richard Branson bought the rights to do this and it worked well for Virgin. The power of distinctive assets.

Fluency examples – P&G logo, Gatorade’s stylised G.

Commercial example:

While it is important to test attributes and look at logos at the very end of the questionnaire, important to put the focus on distinctive assets like logos.

Bringing in behavioural science means we should be able to simplify marketing.




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