WARC Event: Behavioural Economics - Research, Purchase Journeys, Shopper Marketing & Choice

Trinity McQueen were honoured to take part in WARC’s Behavioural Economics symposium on Wednesday. We were there to present The shopper moment of truth - our MRS Award winning paper with our client Steve Lomax from Weetabix.


The connecting theme for the talks was applying the learnings of behavioural economics to real life practice. It’s all very well to have read Nudge and Predictably Irrational… the hard bit is figuring out what to do next. This is what drew the 200 attendees to a standing room only event at Deloitte’s London HQ.

Dr Ali Goode (Cognitive Scientist, Gorilla In The Room) explored the how virtual reality can be applied to large scale quantitative research, recreating immersive reality at scale. His background as a cognitive scientist offered an authoritative anchor to proceedings.

Key quote: “The brain exists to predict what happens next”

Richard Bradford (Journey Design Partner, Wavemaker) focussed on the power of defaults. He described the strategy behind Stoptober: leveraging immediacy and social proof to get people to stop smoking together is more effective than educating them about health dangers. He also offered a fresh perspective on the default option being perhaps the most powerful commercial lever: Duracell AA batteries (97 years of brand heritage) are no longer market leaders - Amazon basics batteries are now the default choice. Once you control the pathway you control what is bought. Subscription services like dollar shave club are leveraging what he called “system zero” – the “no choice” choice.  

Key quote: “What’s the least amount of thought required to buy this?”

Richard Shotton (Deputy Head of Evidence, Manning Gottlieb OMD) introduced us to some of the themes in his book The Choice Factory. It’s a fantastic read: Shotton has done the hard thinking and makes the implications of behaviour science crystal clear for practitioners. I’ll write a more extensive post to explore his book in detail. Suffice it to say I wish it I had it to hand 5 years ago. If anything, I took most inspiration from his initiative. Unsure if a heuristic applies to your client category or if a nudge could be applied? Arrange a simple controlled test. His book has at least 5 practical methods all researchers can apply at virtually zero marginal cost.

Key quote: “Behavioural Economics is a catalogue of persuasive communication. If you’re not applying it as an agency you’re not doing your job properly.”

All that left Steve Lomax (Shopper Insight Manager, Weetabix) and myself to do was make the case for market research, specifically how creative research design can expose the system one drivers of behaviour. In our case, applying BE theory to the cereal aisle led to real commercial outcomes: record market share for the Weetabix brand. The full case study can be found here.

Thanks to Imaad and the team at WARC for organising such a well-run event.  


Simon Shaw, Director

Chris Handford