Designing Consumer Behaviour

Designing Consumer Behaviour

Changing consumer behaviour is a core competency within Actant. Our behaviour change work is spread across commercial market development challenges and, increasingly, in the area of sustainable consumption.

The need to change consumer behaviour because of climate change, and to a lesser extent public health, has fuelled a huge growth in this area across commercial companies, governments and NGOs. Actant has taken an active role in this development through engagements with, for example, UNICEF and UK Department for International Development.

Our approach to behaviour change is distinctive in four ways.

First, we have avoided a simplistic understanding of behaviour – subject to universal laws. For this reason there can’t be a simplified list of behaviour change mechanisms or mechanics. There are no silver bullets. So for example we are careful to distinguish between social habits and individual behaviours. Habits, make up the constant, unnoticed background noise of our life and are also responsible for much of our inconspicuous consumption (water, heating etc). Whilst, they belong to no-one – we spend much of our time, everyday, embroiled within them. To treat them as the same as any other ‘behaviour’ is to miss both their stability as well as their dynamism. Each challenge is different for us – because the behaviours are different. So we select the best approach based upon the specifics of the challenge.

Second, we do not advance one particular theory or approach. We do not consider ‘behavioural economics’ to hold the answer, for example. We are interested in opening and growing the kitbag of possible explanations of human behaviour rather than closing it down. Therefore, we draw from a wide range of academic disciplines covering psychology, behavioural economics, political sciences and sociology. Because different perspectives see problems and challenges in different ways, drawing from a wide but distinctive base fuels creativity.

Third, our iterative, design led, approach to innovation requires that we experiment early with prototype interventions. So sooner we start to see opportunities – as well as show possible impediments to change.