Dis­cov­er how Psy­cho­log­i­cal The­o­ry can be applied to Dig­i­tal Marketing

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Philipp, Jakob, Aam­i­na, Octavia, Sofia — King’s Busi­ness School, King’s Col­lege London

In this talk, UG stu­dents from King’s Col­lege Lon­don will speak about choice archi­tec­ture, and how it can be lever­aged to increase online sales. As part of a mar­ket­ing mod­ule they were tasked to alter the lay­out of a vir­tu­al shop in a way that would nudge par­tic­i­pants towards a select prod­uct. Using Gorilla’s Shop Builder the stu­dents were able to put their design to the test, achiev­ing incred­i­ble results. 

Full Tran­script:

Octavia Skiv­ing­ton 0:00
Per­fect. Thank you, Jo. So hel­lo, every­one. Thank you so much for join­ing us. And of course, thank you, Joe for invit­ing us. So just a lit­tle short intro­duc­tion. My name is Octavia and along­side my class­mates Sofia, Jakob, Aam­i­na, and Philipp we’re all final year under­grad stu­dents at King’s Col­lege Lon­don. And we were lucky enough to take Gillian’s mod­ule this past aca­d­e­m­ic year. So as you already very nice­ly explained, it was enti­tled influ­enc­ing con­sumers. And this whole mod­ule explored how applied psy­cho­log­i­cal the­o­ry can be imple­ment­ed in the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing world. So actu­al­ly, it was thanks to Gillian’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with Goril­la shop builder, we were able to put this aca­d­e­m­ic the­o­ry that we’ve learned in the mod­ule into real life practice.

So through the shop builder itself, we were able to achieve these real life excit­ing results. So, through this pre­sen­ta­tion, we wish to share just a lit­tle bit of an insight into the brief we were giv­en by Gillian as you saw pre­vi­ous­ly, and you know, the dif­fer­ent routes that we as a group decid­ed to take and you know, how our own exper­i­ment end­ed up going. So we’d like to round off our pre­sen­ta­tion at the end by final­ly reflect­ing on our own lit­tle jour­ney and explore the valu­able take­aways, we’ve had this fas­ci­nat­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty. So with­out fur­ther ado, I’d like to start off by hand­ing over to Sofia, who’s going to go through the brief and kind of give a lit­tle bit of a back­ground, a lit­tle bit more info about the project itself.

Sofia Rebe­lo 1:25
Thank you, Octavia. So as Julian already briefly explained, but now, we’re kind of giv­ing you our per­spec­tive as the stu­dents doing the actu­al assign­ment. So ini­tial­ly, for the as a group assign­ment for Gillian’s class influ­enc­ing con­sumers, we were ini­tial­ly pre­sent­ed with a vir­tu­al shop, which con­tained 30 prod­ucts all price between 50 and 100 pounds. So our task, as Gillian explained, was to select one of these prod­ucts and alter the shop in a way that would nudge par­tic­i­pants towards pur­chas­ing it as a birth­day present for the fic­ti­tious char­ac­ter, Sophie, which you can see her descrip­tion in the bot­tom right corner.

So our altered shop would then be sent out to par­tic­i­pants. And in the end, as we will go fur­ther into, it would be bench­marked against the con­trol shop where no inter­ven­tions had been applied. So these inter­ven­tions were applied both to the shop itself and to the path that par­tic­i­pants took, as you will see, lat­er, my col­leagues will explain it bet­ter. So actu­al­ly, the true aim of this assign­ment was not just to play around the shop, although that was very fun. It was to apply the psy­cho­log­i­cal the­o­ries that we have learned in class, and not just in Gillian’s class. But also, you know, we applied so many oth­er things that we learned in dif­fer­ent sub­jects in an indus­try rel­e­vant man­ner, and with real con­sumers at stake. So this was real­ly the most inter­est­ing part of this assign­ment was, it was so dif­fer­ent from the tra­di­tion­al for­mat that we had expe­ri­enced in oth­er class­es, and before at Kings. So this real­ly dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed the mod­ule from oth­ers. And it was real­ly inter­est­ing to then com­pare the effec­tive­ness of the nudges to an actu­al con­trol shop. So it real­ly gave us real life insight into how these the­o­ries are actu­al­ly applied. So okay, with­out fur­ther ado, let’s see how we actu­al­ly approached it. Because I think with­out actu­al­ly see­ing what we did, it’s hard to understand.

Jakob Maise 3:42
Yeah, thank you so much, Sofia. So we approach the task in a very strate­gic man­ner. We were imple­ment as many nudges as pos­si­ble, which ulti­mate­ly led us to select the Miss Dior per­fume, as Gillian already men­tioned. So our assump­tion was that the prod­uct high con­sumer aware­ness, will would allow us to tap into already estab­lished social net­works. So in oth­er words, we assume that a major­i­ty of our par­tic­i­pants are already famil­iar with the Miss Dior per­fume, and had already learned to asso­ciate the prod­uct with for exam­ple, vibrant colours, flo­ral scents, or even with the cam­paign’s face Natal­ie Port­man. And our hunch was that by sub­con­scious­ly acti­vat­ing these asso­cia­tive net­works, we’d be able to nudge par­tic­i­pants towards mak­ing a pur­chase of our product.

So fol­low­ing this train of thought, we dis­trib­uted such nudges through­out three sequen­tial steps in our exper­i­ment, name­ly a blog, a social media task, and a vir­tu­al shop. So let’s con­sid­er each in turn and walk through the sort of things that our par­tic­i­pants were exposed to through­out the exper­i­ment. So let’s start off with the blog. The main aim of the blog was to prime par­tic­i­pants in favour of our prod­uct. We real­ly felt that this for­mat would not only allow us to insert per­sua­sion tac­tics in a very native man­ner, but it would also enable us to con­nect in an authen­tic way with our par­tic­i­pants, so it was a great way to start the exper­i­ment and con­nect with the peo­ple behind the screen. And in our blog, we chose to speak through the voice of a fic­tion­al influ­encer by the name of Regi­na George, who talks to her fol­low­ers about her own 21st birth­day and ranks her three favourite gifts. And the rea­son­ing behind this was that by using an opin­ion leader, we’d be able to make use of Cial­dini’s weapons of influ­ence, and main­ly author­i­ty, social proof and liking.

For exam­ple, if we think about author­i­ty, the influ­encers fol­low­ing allows her to ben­e­fit from a sort of social sta­tus in the eyes of the par­tic­i­pant, which makes them more like­ly to accept her direc­tions. And in a sim­i­lar way, giv­en that Regi­na’s age and gen­der align with Sophie’s, Regi­na is like­ly to act as social proof which makes her pos­i­tive approval of cer­tain gifts all the more valu­able. So in a way she almost tes­ti­fies to the valid­i­ty of cer­tain gifts. And arguably, our influ­encers name which is a ref­er­ence to the pop­u­lar movie Mean Girls, I’m not sure how famil­iar you are with the 2000s movie, but also a very col­lo­qui­al and engag­ing tone makes her very like­able to par­tic­i­pants. So, which also accord­ing to shall be needs stim­u­lates fur­ther compliance.

So as you may have noticed, Regi­na had a great per­sua­sive pow­er. So giv­en this pow­er, it was all the more impor­tant that we select the right prod­ucts. So in oth­er words, prod­ucts that would prime par­tic­i­pants in favour of our prod­uct of the Miss Dior per­fume and nar­row their con­sid­er­a­tion sets down to beau­ty items. But obvi­ous­ly, there was always the poten­tial for per­sua­sion resis­tance, so we had to be real­ly care­ful not to dis­play items that are too direct­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the per­fume. So in the end, we set­tled on a scent­ed wave spray, a flo­ral print scarf and a Chanel lip­stick, which you can see on the screen. Just for a lit­tle bit of con­text, for exam­ple, the scent­ed wave spray, we select­ed to acti­vate par­tic­i­pants recep­tive­ness towards scent­ed items or per­fumed items. While the flo­ral print scarf was cho­sen to resem­ble Natal­ie Port­man’s icon­ic look for the misty your cam­paign as Ami­na will show you on the next slide, and also kind of mir­ror the over­all flo­ral aes­thet­ic of the entire cam­paign. And final­ly, the Chanel lip­stick was cho­sen to nudge par­tic­i­pants towards high end beau­ty items, such as ad or perfume.

But again, we had to be very care­ful not to be too obvi­ous so as not to awake per­sua­sion resis­tance. So we real­ly made it our mis­sion to be as sub­tle as pos­si­ble. But there was anoth­er ben­e­fit towards you know, select­ing this sort of for­mat, hav­ing Regi­na’s favourite prod­uct list­ed in the for­mat that they were also was an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make use of the anchor­ing heuris­tic. So all three items that we’ve chose, were strate­gi­cal­ly priced under 100 pounds, through which we hope to elim­i­nate prod­ucts whose prices devi­at­ed sig­nif­i­cant­ly lat­er in the shop. And by pric­ing these three items at 39, 49 and 79 pounds respec­tive­ly. They also pro­vid­ed the per­fect ref­er­ence prices for our per­fume, which we sold at 59 pounds. So it’s right in the mid­dle of these prices and also ends in a nine, which is you know, kind of what the anchor­ing heuris­tic hints at that this would make it eas­i­er for them to select our per­fume. But that’s all in terms of the blog. With­out fur­ther ado, let me hand over to Aam­i­na who will take you through the next stage of the experiment.

Aam­i­na Chaudry 8:28
Thank you so much, Jacob. So next, our par­tic­i­pants were instruct­ed to com­plete a social media task, where they were shown a series of images and they had to nav­i­gate through them. Our main aim with the social media task was to prime users into real­ly focus­ing on their sense of smell, so that once they entered our shop, they would be kind of sub­con­scious­ly look­ing more at the scent­ed prod­ucts, includ­ing our per­fume. So we used images of laven­der apple blos­soms as well as a cin­na­mon lat­te. And these were added to draw par­al­lels to the per­fume which embod­ies flo­ral design in both its prod­uct descrip­tion and its actu­al design.

And we also decid­ed to depict images of lux­u­ry fash­ion blog­ger Chiara Fer­rag­ni, as you can see on the bot­tom left, and Natal­ie Port­man, who’s Diors brand ambas­sador on the right. So Port­man’s pic­ture is actu­al­ly tak­en from the Miss Dior cam­paign, and we want­ed to make sure that image was unbrand­ed, but we still hope to acti­vate some asso­cia­tive net­works sur­round­ing this per­fume. And then that using the image of Fer­rag­ni both primes the users of the think­ing of lux­u­ry beau­ty as she’s a lux­u­ry blog­ger. And it also allowed us to sub­tly incor­po­rate a Miss Dior prod­uct being her bag, but with­out once again, putting our per­fume. And yeah, we want­ed to fur­ther acti­vate asso­cia­tive net­works sur­round­ing the art and we also felt that Fer­rag­ni is endorse­ment of the brand addi­tion­al­ly pro­vid­ed social proof and author­i­ty which tes­ti­fies to the val­ue of the the brand over­all. And next Philip will show you what we did in our actu­al shop.

Philipp Kor­bler 10:07
Thank you Aam­i­na. Final­ly our par­tic­i­pants arrived at the online shop where the lay­out, the labels, descrip­tions and oth­er ele­ments col­lec­tive­ly nudge them towards the per­fume. The beau­ty sec­tion was set as a default land­ing page to cap­i­talise on indi­vid­u­als iner­tia and to min­imise the effort required to reach the desired prod­uct. Our prim­ing towards flo­ral fra­grances con­tin­ued as we rebrand­ed the site’s ban­ner and adapt­ed its gen­er­al colour scheme to match the fem­i­nine and sophis­ti­cat­ed per­son­al­i­ty of the Miss Dior prod­uct. Here we drew on the psy­chol­o­gy of colour to increase pur­chas­ing ten­sions. This redesigned theme is depict­ed in the top right image, and as you can see, we use flow­ers and a pas­tel pink colour theme. Var­i­ous labels and dis­counts were also used to nudge vis­i­tors towards the fra­grance and away from oth­er prod­uct. For exam­ple, the sell­ing fast labels strength­ens social proof and cre­at­ed a sense of scarci­ty, while the Vogue favourite label enha- while the vote favourite label enhanced source cred­i­bil­i­ty, gen­er­at­ing pos­i­tive per­cep­tions regard­ing the qual­i­ty and the val­ue of the fragrance.

On the oth­er hand, the clear­ance label paired with a dis­count sought to gen­er­ate the oppo­site effect and decreased prod­uct desir­abil­i­ty. Oth­er labels strive to attain a sim­i­lar effect. For exam­ple, the Men’s Health endorsed and great for mature skin labels were aimed at gen­er­at­ing a mis­match between Sophie’s tar­get mar­ket and that of com­pet­ing prod­ucts. These labels can be seen on the oth­er image. Despite the above efforts, we knew that there was some inher­ent risk that par­tic­i­pants would opt for an alter­na­tive prod­uct in the beau­ty cat­e­go­ry. For exam­ple, Michael Kors has gor­geous per­fume which is depict­ed on the slide. There­fore, as a final ele­ment, we imple­ment­ed a pop up prompt­ing users with a poten­tial swap. Here the salience of Miss Dior’s envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fit was increased. In addi­tion, this also allowed for direct com­par­isons, mak­ing the fra­grance stand out more as explained by the dis­tinc­tion. But yes, but how did all of our above efforts influ­ence con­sumer choice. Sofia will now explore the quan­tifi­able impact of our interventions?

Sofia Rebe­lo 12:26
Thank you guys. So now that every­one can under­stand a bit bet­ter, how the shop actu­al­ly worked, and how the exper­i­ment was framed. The most excit­ing part, at least to me was look­ing at the results and the day that Jo announced that all of our groups have the results ready. So indeed, what we saw was that our efforts pro­duced amaz­ing results. And if this was a real life sce­nario, imag­ine what this could have been. So for exam­ple, com­par­ing our shop which had all these nudges to the con­trol shop, we achieved three times bas­ket addi­tions of the Miss Dior. In a real life envi­ron­ment, this would have been amaz­ing, if you could increase your shop your bas­ket edi­tions by three times. So Oh, and even more impor­tant­ly, the actu­al pur­chas­es went from sev­en out of 38 par­tic­i­pants to 21 out of 41, which is more or less a 1/3 increase in pur­chas­es. And once again, this is an amaz­ing thing to see. And it was real­ly incred­i­ble for us to see that our nudges actu­al­ly pro­duced quan­tifi­able effects.

So as Phillip just men­tioned, there was always the risk that peo­ple would choose this oth­er per­fume, the Gor­geous!, as you can see here Eau de Par­furm. So it’s great for us that although we were real­ly scared that we had applied all these nudges, point­ing peo­ple towards scent and lux­u­ry, but still, we achieved zero pur­chas­es of this Gor­geous per­fume through tac­tics such as apply­ing the clear­ance label or the eco swap. And this is real­ly amaz­ing because arguably, our biggest com­peti­tor in the shop was actu­al­ly the least well least pur­chased along­side oth­er items, of course, but zero pur­chas­es of it. So yeah, this is real­ly, real­ly great that despite our efforts towards scent, we actu­al­ly man­aged to nudge peo­ple not just towards our prod­uct, but away from our com­peti­tors, which is just every­thing that we need.

Octavia Skiv­ing­ton 14:51
So just around the fall pre­sen­ta­tion, I’m sure myself and my team­mates could speak on behalf of them. You know, this was a tru­ly invalu­able expe­ri­ence, not only were we able to apply the­o­ret­i­cal class­room learn­ing to the real world of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, but we were also able to do this in an indus­try rel­e­vant man­ner, where we were able to utilise Goril­la’s func­tions to get a taste of what real­ly goes on on a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing plat­form. So I’m sure we def­i­nite­ly acquired some trans­fer­able skills that we can apply to oth­er such sim­i­lar plat­forms such as Shopi­fy or Wix, I’m sure some of you know them.

This col­lab­o­ra­tion was also prac­ti­cal and super rel­e­vant to our degree. As Gillian men­tioned, you know, it’s an excit­ing talk­ing point to bring up in inter­views, and it’s a real prac­ti­cal demon­stra­tion of, you know, our fun­da­men­tal under­stand­ing of the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing indus­try. So final­ly, you know, it was a refresh­ing­ly dif­fer­ent addi­tion­al com­po­nent to any mod­el we’ve ever tak­en at Kings over the past few years. And I think it’s because of this unique­ness, we were real­ly eager to get involved, you know, and it was because of this, that we were, we were able to take so much more away from the expe­ri­ence and the mod­ule itself, you know, it’s incred­i­bly excit­ing. And I’m sure we’ll all reflect on our uni years and remem­ber this excit­ing mod­ule. So that’s all from us. Thank you for lis­ten­ing. If you have any ques­tions, we’re hap­py to take them whether that’d be about, you know, any­thing that we talked about in, you know, exper­i­ment, or you know, any­thing about the expe­ri­ence itself. Thank you very much.

Jo Ever­shed 16:23
Thank you, Team Alpha, you were absolute­ly incred­i­ble. And I, you know, I’m sure I speak for every­body in the audi­ence, if you were my third year stu­dents, I would be absolute­ly gob­s­macked at the qual­i­ty of the research that you’ve done today. Peo­ple in the room, you know this, if you can write a mes­sage in the chat to say what you thought of the research that Team Alpha have done. I thought what they did was extra­or­di­nary how they have pulled togeth­er all these dif­fer­ent psy­cho­log­i­cal the­o­ries and imple­ment­ed them with­in this shop­ping expe­ri­ence to test these behav­iour­al nudges towards con­sumers. Gareth, can you turn your cam­era on too? I am woe­ful­ly unqual­i­fied to ask Team Alpha, any ques­tions at this point, because I’m not a con­sumer psy­chol­o­gist. So Gareth, I’m going to turn it over to you to ask the first ques­tions to the team, because this is your bread and but­ter and your area of expertise.

Gareth Har­vey 17:17
So first­ly, with so many dif­fer­ent sort of inter­ven­tions avail­able, how did you nar­row it down? Or how did you pri­ori­tise which ones you’re going to start with?

Jakob Maise 17:28
So I think the good way to start any research project is you have to see what’s out there. So we real­ly start­ed by look­ing at, you know, the the­o­ries that we dis­cussed in class with Gillian, you know, doing a lot of lit­er­a­ture research, and just real­ly kind of siev­ing through every­thing that we’ve seen. But real­ly, it was a very, you know, cre­ative process amongst us. So we real­ly start­ed by, you know, see­ing which prod­uct do we want to nudge con­sumers towards? And then we real­ly start­ed apply­ing what we thought was rel­e­vant. So for exam­ple, we start­ed, you know, look­ing at, should we kind of prime users, you know, what, what kind of exper­i­men­tal things can we do. So, when we start­ed set­tling on, you know, we want to do a blog, and we want to do social media task, it real­ly all went from there. And we end­ed up kind of incor­po­rat­ing, you know, Cial­dini’s prin­ci­ples of per­sua­sion. Also, colour the­o­ry, and you know, things like white­space. So it was real­ly a very organ­ic process, we did­n’t go in, you know, know­ing these are the things we want to incor­po­rate. But it was real­ly a step by step sequen­tial process. And, as you might have noticed, every­thing kind of all are now just kind of linked, or built up on each oth­er. So it was real­ly a very sequen­tial process.

Gareth Har­vey 18:32
And with test­ing so many dif­fer­ent ideas at the same time, which is great, because that’s how things work in the real world out­side of acad­e­mia. How if you had to try and work out how you how you could iden­ti­fy which ones have a great­est effect? How would you sort of try and do that as a next step? So if you’re gen­er­al­is­ing it to anoth­er cat- prod­ucts, you could actu­al­ly just focus on what was effective?

Jakob Maise 18:55
Yeah, I think that’s some­thing that we also dis­cussed, which was quite tricky about the project. So again, like our nudges were very inter­linked, so they real­ly built on one anoth­er, so it’s kind of hard to see which one was it that was the most effec­tive. But I think if we were to kind of redo this, you know, know­ing that it was effec­tive in the end, who kind of like iso­late cer­tain vari­ables and kind of try to, you know, maybe just do a blog, and then do the con­trol shop, or just do the social media task or, you know, leave the two exper­i­ments or what you know, leave that whole sec­tion away, and just try or our nudges on the web­site itself. So real­ly, the next step would be iso­lat­ing each oth­er cer­tain valu­ables, but I think what made it so unique is that they built kind of on top of each oth­er. And I think that was real­ly inter­est­ing to see that they, you know, kind of the way that they inter­act­ed pro­duced these results.

Gareth Har­vey 19:44
No, I think it’s real­ly cool, and it’s real­ly nice to see it being test­ed, not the same. Oh, how much does a price change affect you? You’ve got it in a shop and you can actu­al­ly see what real­ly hap­pens because, as we all know, the way peo­ple behave in a retail set­ting is com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent to how peo­ple think or how they claim they act.

Jo Ever­shed 20:03
Well, so we’ve only got one of the stu­dent groups here today, Julian had a class of 100 stu­dents. So there were about 20 groups of five stu­dents to offer nudge peo­ple towards Miss Dior, and got this 3x increase in sales, there was anoth­er team that nudge peo­ple towards Miss Dior, as well. And they did rea­son­ably well. And then there were lots of oth­er teams that picked dif­fer­ent prod­ucts. And we saw nudges towards those as well. So we know that this was­n’t just that. Luck. And if we were struc­tur­ing it dif­fer­ent­ly, again, we could do it so that there’s a clus­ter of stu­dents all nudg­ing towards Miss Dior. And they all try dif­fer­ent ele­ments. So one group could just do the blog on one group to just do this and anoth­er group to do all but togeth­er so that we have a bit more of that. Where does the influ­ence come from which bits of the of the fun­nel of all of the nudges were hav­ing the most influ­ence? With that? I think we’re get­ting towards we’re get­ting towards the end of ses­sion. We do have some time for some more ques­tions. Hang on a minute, I’m going to pull up the q&a. Bala Chan­da asks, is it hard to con­trol many fac­tors while apply­ing nudges in the wild? What kind of fac­tors did you con­trol? For exam­ple? Did you keep your social media inter­ac­tions the same?

Jakob Maise 21:16
So kind of to answer the sec­ond part of your ques­tion in terms of the social media tasks, so it was­n’t a real social media feed kind of, it was just you had kind of a page of images where the user kind of nav­i­gat­ed back and for­ward, and the only thing that they could do is, you know, press a like but­ton or not. But real­ly, this did­n’t real­ly mat­ter to the out­come, because the only thing that mat­tered to us is that they were being exposed to these images in the first place. So it was­n’t kind of like a real social media feed, as you would imag­ine it you know, while scrolling through Insta­gram, it was real­ly just an oppor­tu­ni­ty for us to prime users and to get them to do this sort of task before they enter our shop. Yeah, so I hope that answers part of your question.

Jo Ever­shed 21:57
Yeah, I think it def­i­nite­ly does. And but Yeah, can you speak to how do we how do shops work out all of their nudges in the world? How do they make sure that not just don’t can­cel each oth­er out?

Gareth Har­vey 22:09
So typ­i­cal­ly, when we work with some of the larg­er brands that have stores, they may have 50 dif­fer­ent ver­sions of their web­site live at any one time. So we’re tak­ing A/B test­ing to the next lev­el. So when I was work­ing with, let’s say, a trav­el retail­er, I think we had about 70 dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the web­site live. And each time we just made one small tweak on it, see how it per­formed the next day, right? Let’s change that one, and make anoth­er change. So we are run­ning so many dif­fer­ent exper­i­ments simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. And then once we think we know what works well, what hap­pens when we com­bine two dif­fer­ent nudges or two dif­fer­ent inter­ven­tions togeth­er because some­times, two dif­fer­ent inter­ven­tions may work real­ly well. When you com­bine them togeth­er, you get a neg­a­tive reac­tion. So it’s start­ing to work out what hap­pens when you start pulling mul­ti­ple ones togeth­er, because, yeah, things don’t always work the way you’re expect­ing them to.

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