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Changing consumer behaviour

A brand choice is a behaviour. To change that brand choice, we need to change behaviours. Read more from Dr Mark Haselgrove, our behavioural psychologist.

Changing consumer behaviour

Whether it’s getting people to buy a product or persuading them to use a service, we’re in the business of changing consumer behaviour. So first, we need to understand it. Here’s what we know. For a long time the assumption was that people weigh up all available information, calculate the pros and cons and then make a decision. In the world of marketing, that would mean brand choices and buying decisions are made rationally. Well, you know what they say about assumptions.

The fact is, however, that our behaviour is also highly influenced by context and emotion, and our decisions can easily be swayed. Every time a consumer interacts with your app, browses your website, picks up a product in store, or sees your campaign in the real world, there is an opportunity to get inside their hearts and heads – we have a chance to influence what they do next.

Tailored solutions

Together is working with Dr Mark Haselgrove from the University of Nottingham to give you access to behavioural psychology in a way that’s agile and cost-effective. Armed with decades of research and a systematic toolkit we can help brands get a better understanding of customers and develop more effective communication ideas. So how does it work? Behavioural Science provides us with a framework of thinking that doesn’t stop intuitive creativity but actually assists in making more informed and strategic solutions to client challenges.

First we understand the barriers stopping consumers from doing what we want them to do. Then we design solutions to overcome them. Depending on the project, this could affect everything from the creative and messaging to the user journey. Because once we understand the barriers, we tweak and tailor campaigns, websites and experiences with pinpoint accuracy to increase the rational and emotional connectivity to your brand.

The Framework

Wherever appropriate, we deploy the COM-B framework to understand the barriers and facilitators to behaviour. COM-B is the most comprehensive and robust model of human behaviour change in the world. It was created at University College London, from a research project spanning more than a decade, with over 100 national and international experts involved in its creation. Using COM-B, we can classify influences on behaviour - and most importantly identify strategies to change it.

Our behavioural science consultant, Dr Mark Haselgrove, says “Using behavioural science models such as COM-B really widens the lens through which we can look at consumer behaviour. It helps us structure the challenges that clients face – to understand how different barriers and drivers relate to each other; but most importantly, it allows us to design the most effective strategies to help you meet your goals”


We have recently worked with a client on the similarities and differences between two target consumer groups. Both groups valued safety very highly, and so we explored the “psychology of safe” to find out: where do people feel safe? (at home with friends and family, rather than outside alone); when do people feel safe (during the day, rather than at night); what colour is safe (safe is green). All these insights were fed to the creative team to develop brand imagery. However, there were subtle differences between the groups in the way in which they described health – with either a positive or a negative frame – and so the brand tone of voice could be varied, depending on the target group, to match their preferred framing.


We’ve used the COM-B model to tailor creative and get better results for our own clients on a wide variety of projects and campaigns. You can find out more about some of these projects here.

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Read more about COM-B here, or you can find out about how we mix behavioural science with creativity here.
To find out how we could apply COM-B and behavioural science to your projects get in touch.

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