I was listening to a very interesting podcast from Planet Money, I’m a year behind it was dated September 2014.
Why did I find it interesting, because it was about behaviour. And we’ve been discussing how to influence people’s behaviour for the past few weeks.
The Planet Money commentators mentioned that Charities had been able to raise US$1.4 Billion to help rebuild Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. After the tsunami in Asia in 2004, organizations raised $1.6 billion. But when something like Ebola happens, or as a famine strikes, people tend to look the other way.
They asked themselves: What does it take to get people to notice something half a world away, and what does it take to get people to pull out their wallets and donate money.
If you wish, listen to the podcast, but here’s the point to the story. When interviewed donors had strong motivations to help those in need. They also had the ability to donate. Their earlier donations to support the Haiti earthquake and the Asian Tsunami were evidence of this. What was different with Ebola or famine… there was no trigger to focus people’s behaviour.
The earthquake which ripped Haiti apart was a very strong signal that something was wrong. As was the TV pictures of the Tsunami wiping settlements out in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, to name but two.
Charities, whose whole focus is on influencing positively people’s behaviours were all too well aware that without a trigger there would be no behaviour.
In 1984 Bono and friends known as “Band Aid” created a fantastic hit song in leading into Christmas called “Do they know its Christmas“, and this acted as a fantastic trigger to people’s behaviour resulting in raising over US$250 Million to address a long standing famine in Ethiopia.
In my own way I was thinking of triggers in the 1990s. I used to manage Guinness in Singapore. A fantastic brand but with declining sales. We did a lot of things but this didn’t seem to stimulate behaviour. When interviewing drinkers there was a positive feeling towards the brand- there were drinkers motivated to drink. We also did a lot of activity- TV commercials, pricing and bonus offers, point of sales activity- but none of it seemed to work. Looking back, its only when we created triggers. We posted Guinness Promoters in coffeeshops to remind drinkers to drink Guinness- as they sat down the Promoter would ask “would you like a Guinness?” rather than “what would you like to drink?“. This trigger, when used, would increase sales. Seeing bottles of Guinness on drinkers tables would also trigger other drinkers to buy and drink Guinness.
The lesson here is even though people definitely are motivated and clearly have the ability to behave in a certain way, without a Trigger to initiate behaviour nothing happens. So identify what behaviours you wish to have and then clearly identify the triggers to stimulate behaviour.