Nudge techniques: 6 creative strategies to influence behaviour
We love nudge techniques. In a previous article, we already wrote about the power of ‘nudging’. In this article, I would like to share a few simple yet practical nudge techniques that you can use to influence the choices and behaviour of your colleagues, clients or inhabitants.
6 practical Nudge techniques
1. Make it fun
If you want people to display a certain behaviour, make sure that the corresponding activity is fun to do. The Fun Theory campaign from Volkswagen is a beautiful example of the power of this approach. In one of their videos, people are encouraged to take the stairs (instead of the escalator) by making walking on the steps a fun experience. The steps resemble piano keys and walking one these steps actually lets you ‘play’ piano-like sounds.
2. Make it easy
If you can make a task easier, you will increase the chance that people will complete it. You can do this by removing (or reducing) friction or by making the task easier. For example, a medicine prescription ‘take one pill after breakfast’ is much easier to remember and maintain than the neutral instruction ‘once a day’.
3. Slow down the process
Of course, if you can make it easier to behave in a positive way, you can also make it harder to behave in a ‘bad’ way. Adding friction can sometimes help to nudge people into making better decisions. For example, if you want to discourage people to eat unhealthy food, you can simply give them smaller spoons or plates so they can only eat small portions of the bad stuff. You can also place the unhealthy snacks far away from their tables so they have to walk to get it.
4. Utilise senses
Our senses have a great influence on our subconscious mind. By utilising senses (using odour, colour, flavour, sounds, texture etc.) we can influence the behaviour of users. A McDonald’s restaurant in Glasgow used classical music in their restaurants to ‘scare off’ loitering teens. The Dutch transport organisation RET used smell to reach their goal. The people of RET spread the smell of lemons to give the impression of a freshly cleaned station, making travellers feel more at ease.
5. Give feedback
By giving people feedback on their behaviour, you keep them engaged and you help them stay aware of their actions. An example of this technique is a pedestrian traffic-light that visually shows when the light will turn green again, thus making it more likely that people will wait. Other well-known examples are the thumbs up or down and the sad/happy emoticons that give drivers feedback about their speeding.
6. Visualise the end-result
Most people don’t think (or don’t want to think) about the consequences of their actions. When you visualise the result of the choices people make, you will break the automatic pilot. This will make people aware of their choices. Most western toilets have two buttons, one for a large and for a small flush. Although these buttons usually have different sizes, people will still often push the heavy flush unnecessary. By adding the text ‘2 litres’ and ‘5 litres’ people are confronted with their water-consumption and nudged towards the smaller flush.
Do you want to know more about nudge techniques?
I recommend you to read ‘Nudge’ by Richard H Thaler & Cass R Sunstein