This is the request I am regularly confronted with, by clients who see the Nudge (behavioural incentive) as a magical solution to increasing sales. But by asking the question in this way, they reveal how focused they are on their own interests (or that of their brand) instead of the one of their end-clients. On top of that, they often forget that designing Nudges does not exempt them from doing their marketer’s homework upstream.
The Nudge approach focuses on identifying opportunities to facilitate the adoption of a product or service by “intentionalists”: prospect consumers a priori open to change. why ? Because it is neither ethical nor easy to “nudge” someone against their own will. And I would also add that you can’t create a sustainable business with a product/service that is not in the interest of its own customers. Nudges are therefore gentle incentives that allow a prospect to take full advantage of what is being offered. Based on behavioural science insights, they inspire how to remove barriers or activate psychological triggers in context.
So to answer the question “can you nudge consumers to buy my product”, I usually reframe the challenge using two alternative questions:
1 – what do you expect, precisely from which prospects, as a behavioural change from their current uses. In other words: who? should do more/less of what? to better meet what personal need? (theirs, not yours)
2 – What clues do you have (from them) that makes you think they will favorably adopt your product/service: which behavioural profiles would be open for trial, and what user feedback evidence do you have.
But to answer these two questions, first you must have done your marketing job, namely:
1 “research the profiles of your prospects” to detect potential intentionalists (the market within non-customers). Because to explore their drivers and barriers, you first need to know who they are.
2 “develop a product/service with a true advantage revealing an unmet customer need”. Because if the Nudge acts as a behavioural lubricant, it will never compensate for an underperforming product/service, or one that has no competitive advantage.
For consumers, the act of buying (be it trial or repurchase) is therefore the result of a sum of microbehaviors. Each of them is triggered by the design of an effective marketing mix, coupled with relevant behavioural activation. Therefore, just as UX is complementary to UI, Nudge and Marketing work hand in hand : communication creates intent and Nudge facilitates action. So before boosting sales with the Nudge, it is important that you first do your marketer’s homework: designing the right product/service for the right target, at the right price. And this necessarily involves a little experimentation with potential users!