Founded Blog, Founded Thinking | March 28, 2018

Make an effort to be lazy

By Richard Phillips, Junior Planner

A recent talk from Richard Bradford at WARC’s Behavioural Economics event shone light on a counterintuitive insight – there’s merit in doing less.

How many of us could name the top 10 albums on our iTunes? Among those who can, what about naming each song that features on them in order? Not many of us, right? But when listening to a favourite album, we all intuitively know what song follows when we get to the end of the current one.

This question is a good way to look at what the brain is. It’s not solely a computer that makes conscious calculations. It’s an organ evolved over millennia that finds holes and intuitively fills them with the most likely answer. The mind loves automaticity and so we feel comfortable in contexts that allow us to go on autopilot. This may go some way in explaining why subscription services have risen by more than 800% since 2014.

It’s also noticeable that the circumstances in which this ‘lazy’ intuitive mind-set can occur are increasing. Mobile has already exploded; digital natives now devote an average of 9 hours each day to media time. But what’s interesting is the behaviour it breeds: autopilot – the opposite to rational and methodical thinking. Research even shows that when a smartphone is next to us in a room but switched off, its mere presence diminishes our rational cognitive ability.

So what does this mean for brands now? Those who are winning are all about creating easy experiences, removing cognitive hurdles and introducing processing fluency.

Gillette’s market share has dropped from 70% to 54% with the introduction of Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club because people are intuitively realising they don’t want to assess whether a razor is blunt enough to replace. On a subscription basis, it can be automatic.

Subscriptions aren’t the only answer though. The most successful campaign to quit smoking hasn’t been anything showcasing the logical and rational reasons why you shouldn’t smoke. Counterintuitively it’s Stoptober – an arbitrary month when everyone feels they’re all in it together.

Duracell have dominated the battery market for nearly 100 years but Amazon’s private label AmazonBasics now leads the market controlling 31% in online battery sales while Duracell controls 21%. Duracell can take solace in the online business accounting for 4% of the overall market but unsurprisingly, the online market is growing rapidly. Yet what’s striking to see is the power of what happens when default, immediacy and seamlessness are introduced as an option.

There’s an abundance of opportunity to shape experiences to our minds’ habits but one question worth asking is “what’s the least amount of thought required here?”