1280X720 Thinking
7th April 2021

I Went “Inside The Nudge Unit”; Here’s What I Took Away

To kickstart our Big Cat Book Club, our Communications Account Manager, Katie Hurst, reviews “Inside the Nudge Unit” by David Halpern and applies her insights to the world of marketing and communications.

1280X720 Katie

The Impact of A Nudge

The word “nudge” is thrown around a lot these days. No, I don’t mean bumping into someone on the street (because you should be socially distancing, people!). I mean the concept of influencing consumer behaviour. 

Big Cat’s recent commitment to behavioural science and our partnership with behavioural science practitioner, Richard Shotton, have generated a newfound respect amongst our teams for consumer insight. Not simply within segmented target audiences but, indeed, from a broad comprehension of human psychology.

“Inside the Nudge Unit” is authored by David Halpern, Chief Executive of the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT or, preferably, The Nudge Unit). The book dives into behavioural science’s adoption within the U.K. government, the importance of specific methodologies and frameworks and the ethical implications of implementing these practices in contemporary society. Here is what I personally took away….

1280X720 Richard Shotton


We are bombarded every day with a cacophony of communications. “Buy this”; “Sign that”; “Get yours today”. So how, as brands, as marketers, as experts, do we cut through the noise? BIT suggests using four easy steps: “Make it [the communication] Easy”, “Make it Attractive”, ”Make it Social” and ”Make it Timely”. In doing so, your penetration is likely to be greater, resulting in a higher rate of success.

1280X720 EAST

So where to start? Well...

Bottom line - who could do without hassle? (ME!!). Incorporate default options to your product or service to diminish time for consideration.

But, let’s say, your competitors have all jumped on the bandwagon and made their paths to purchase easier - how can you stand out? Be distinctive. Don’t make purchasing the last stop on your customer journey - offer a reward, like 10% off their next shop and positively reinforce your consumers’ change in behaviour.

Now, we must “social proof”. Social proof is a bias whereby people are more inclined to emulate a behaviour that they see others doing (because it therefore must be correct and so they know they won’t look silly). When putting your goods online, why not tell people how many others are currently looking at that product? It’s in demand, highly-anticipated and all your friends want it too!

Whilst all of the above can place your brand in the best position for purchase, the old idiom stands: “Timing is Everything”. Consider when you are planning to bring your product to market; when are people most likely to want your good or service? Then, work backwards to consider when best to advertise for that peak demand period.

At Big Cat, we then apply C&R for business settings - “Make it Contextual” and “Make it Relative”. To find out more about these two pillars, take a look at our Discovery Workshops.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Test, Learn and Adapt

Whilst it may seem easy to put all of your eggs in one basket and rely solely on CATERS or the EAST framework, life provides no guarantees. BIT submits that before you get cracking with your behaviour change initiative, you must first pilot. 

Once piloted with your control and experimental groups, you can compare the results and see how best to implement your discoveries moving forward. 

But that’s not the end, oh no! For continued success, we must keep testing, learning and adapting. Just as society continues to change, so must we as marketers and brand owners.

With Power, Comes Great Responsibility

Yes, of course, in the world of advertising, we are regulated and there is assurance that our promotions are transparent and reflective of legal restrictions. Yet using behavioural science in this world is about understanding how to create positive change; that begins with the brand and marketing teams.

Just as you can encourage people to purchase your product or service, you can also bring about change for good. What does your brand offer as a USP? What does your brand offer by way of CSR?

With power, comes great responsibility. Use this knowledge to your advantage and help the world through advertising.

Outside the Nudge Unit 

David Halpern’s book is a humorous, easy-to-read and insightful take on the development of BIT and behavioural science’s applications to the U.K. government. 

To see that behavioural science is growing in popularity, both within the public and private sectors, shows a greater appreciation for consumer research and, ultimately, comprehension. 

What is important, however, is to continue developing alongside your consumers. Consumers are no longer passive bystanders. Bring the consumers into the product journey, so as to get a detailed look at their path to purchase and improve your brand for the better. 

Be mindful of ethical considerations and create positive change. In doing so, we build a better, more dynamic world of possibilities for brand salience and strength.

Interested in boosting your business through behavioural insights? Contact us today to see how we can help your brand with our workshops!

Sign up for our latest insights, ideas and inspiration