Flexing Our BeSci Brawn

When we think about exercise, we’re likely to think about cardio or lifting weights for muscle growth. But it’s important to remember that our thought processes also consume a lot of our energy. Our brains are in a state of ‘workout’ most of our waking hours. And while our brains are indeed supercomputers constantly at work, they too try to conserve energy and take the easiest route to decisions. But what does this actually mean? Quite simply, our brains aim to operate in "eco mode" whenever possible. Human brains are constantly leveraging past experiences and impressions to automate thought processes – and thus, to minimize the overall cognitive load.

This is very important to bear in mind whenever we talk about human behaviour in general and consumer behaviour and shopper experience specifically. Humans (and respondents in a research study are certainly no exception) like to think that they are the masters of their own thoughts, conclusions and decisions. However, the reality is not so simple. While the operating modes of our brain normally help us to navigate our surroundings and their environmental affordances and stimuli more efficiently, they are not without errors or flaws.

What fascinates me about Behavioural Science is the potential to better understand how humans reach their conclusions. At PRS IN VIVO, we utilize our BeSci Framework to observe, analyse and communicate insights based on actual behaviour. You can think of our BeSci Framework as our ‘gym’ of sorts – it sets the stage to capture respondent behaviour, but also to train our teams with rigour and expertise. Our Framework is a form of circuit training that triangulates consumer behaviour.

We go beyond understanding System 1 and System 2 thinking to relay to clients how to best communicate in a System 1 and System 2 way. By leveraging both systems, we can help predict which designs will not only appeal to shoppers but drive purchase through a mix of emotional and rational cues.  We are sticklers for context to illuminate how various retail channels, planograms and adjacencies can influence shopper behaviour at the point of purchase. Our guidance on appropriate choice architecture can help guide shoppers to key skus that drive client growth. In a recent report I used the Framing effect to help a client drive trade up on packaging through simplified visual cues.

Recently I utilized our Drivers of Influence – a shortlist of key heuristics – to facilitate navigation and ease of the shopper experience via POSM and signage in store. By leveraging our Drivers, we take away the guesswork and rely on what the academic discipline of Behavioural Science has taught us already.

It's this rigour provided by our BeSci Framework that gets us past impressions and attitudes to real behaviour and actionable insights that drive client outcomes. We’re never afraid to flex a bit of mental muscle.

Lukas Steinberg is an Insights Manager on PRS IN VIVO’s Behavioural Qual team. Based in London, Lukas runs projects across a number of categories and moderates in both English and his native German. The winner of our first ever BeSci Framework Contest, Lukas leverages his digital marketing and market research experience as well as his MSci in Psychological and Behavioural Science from the London School of Economics to guide clients to tangible solutions based on behaviour.