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Unlocking Your Customer’s Mind: Behavioral Science Secrets with Richard Shotton
Neuro Agent

In an increasingly crowded digital landscape, harnessing the principles of behavioral science offers a strategic advantage, allowing businesses to decode consumer behavior and tailor their online presence to resonate with target audiences. From subtle nudges to persuasive messaging, marketing expert Richard Shotton explains how integrating behavioral science into online marketing efforts can lead to enhanced customer reach, deeper engagement, and ultimately, improved conversion rates. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Leverage Behavioral Biases in Your Marketing Strategy: Identify and apply the most relevant behavioral biases to your marketing efforts. For example, use the scarcity bias by highlighting the limited availability of an offer to encourage quicker consumer actions. 
  • Integrate Principles of Pricing Psychology: Experiment with different pricing strategies informed by behavioral science. Test how presenting prices in certain ways can affect customers’ perception of value and their purchase decisions. 
  • Utilize the Power of Habit Formation: Understand your customers’ habits and how they influence purchasing decisions. Develop marketing strategies that align with these habits or aim to create new, beneficial habits that include your product or service. 
  • Apply Insights from Behavioral Experiments: Use the findings from behavioral science experiments to tweak your marketing campaigns. Small changes in wording, design, or timing can lead to significantly better outcomes based on proven behavioral insights. 
  • Incorporate Uncertain Rewards to Boost Engagement: Design your loyalty programs or promotional campaigns to include elements of uncertainty. This could mean offering variable rewards or gamifying the experience to make customer engagement more exciting and motivating. 



Rich: My guest today specializes in applying behavioral science to marketing. He’s worked in marketing for 23 years and helps brands such as Google, Mondelez, and BrewDog with their challenges.  

He’s the author of The Choice Factory, a best-selling book available in 15 languages, which explains how behavioral science can solve business challenges. His latest book, The Illusion of Choice, came out in March 2023.  

Back in 2021, he became an associate of the Mahler Institute, Churchill College, and Cambridge University. Today, we’re going to be diving into how you can use behavioral science to reach and engage more of your ideal customers online with Richard Sutton. Richard, welcome to the program.  

Richard: Very good to see you.  

Rich: This is exciting. This is the kind of stuff that I love sinking my teeth into. And I can’t believe, I must have seen your books, but I can’t believe it took an introduction from our mutual friend to actually be like, oh, these are books that I’m going to want to read. And I’ve started in the second book. But your first book, The Choice Factory, you cover 25 behavioral biases that influence the way we buy. What new ground do you feel you’re covering in your new book, The Illusion of Choice 

Richard: So when I wrote The Choice Factory back in 2017, I picked what I thought were the 25 most relevant biases. But in the intervening five, six years, I’ve done a lot more research. And what I did with the second book, Illusion of Choice, is follow a similar style, but look at a new range of biases that marketers use. So there’s much more in the second book about how you break and then reshape habits. There’s much more around pricing psychology. There’s much more around ideas that affect copywriting.  

But really the style of the book is the same. So each chapter, here’s a bias, this is what it is, here’s some experiments I’ve done that show you it’s relevant today. And then the most important bit, the bulk of the chapter is what should you do differently as a marketer now you know about it? 

Rich: Yeah. And as I was reading through The Illusion of Choice, that was one of the things that stood out to me. I just always like this psychology of things. That was my original passion was psychology before I didn’t do so well in GREs and decided to go into business.  

But what I like about this is there’s the idea that’s fascinating in the psychology side of things, but then you actually really pull it into, here’s how you could literally change an ad campaign to get more results. Or here’s an ad campaign or a marketing campaign, and we changed a few words, and we got much better results. So that part I really liked.  

I obviously love behavioral science, but how do you see behavioral science transforming the way that the typical marketer today might approach their own digital campaigns? What role does it play?  

Richard: Pretty much any marketer, any campaign is really trying to change the behavior of a user. So often we will want to sell our products at a premium. We want to get people to switch from a competitive brand. We want people to buy a bigger range of our products. Now, all of those key questions as marketers, they’re all questions of behavior change. 

Every marketer is in the business of behavior change. So the relevance of behavioral science is it gives you evidence-based ideas about how to change behavior. All behavioral science is, is a huge collection of experiments and ideas into what actually changes behavior, rather than what people claim changes their behavior. So I think it’s very hard to think of a more relevant topic for a marketer.  

Rich: So I hadn’t thought about it quite like that. Like marketing is always about behavior change. You’re absolutely right.  

Richard: Yeah. Not just government campaigns. Sometimes we think, oh, okay, charities. That’s about behavior change. No. Trying to get someone to buy Coke over Pepsi is about behavior change. Attitude is just a proxy metric. Getting someone to fulfill an e-commerce journey, that’s behavior change. Not dropping out, that’s behavior change. It’s very relevant.  

Rich: Absolutely. So this is not a question I thought about asking, but this is fascinating to me. So if most of our jobs as marketers is to change behavior, I know from working with a lot of different companies over the years that sometimes they’re actually ahead of the pack, and they’re really just trying to cement their place. Is there a role for this behavioral science in getting people to not change behavior? 

Like if you have a series of inns or hotels that every year you’re full up, but obviously there’s new competitors coming into the market at all times. There’s changes in interest and desires. How might you leverage some of the things in your book to actually get people to not change and to stick with you? 

Richard: Yeah, absolutely. I must admit, I normally look at it from the other perspective. I’m normally trying to get them to change their behavior. But you could absolutely apply the principles in the opposite direction.  

Take one idea, fresh start effect. This is a 2014 study from Atheron Miltman at Wharton. She has a theory, it starts as a theory. She says one of the big drives of human behavior is the desire to be consistent with our past selves. So therefore, what we often end up doing is repeating the same behavior again and again because we don’t want to feel like a hypocrite, a flip flopper, someone who’s inconsistent. 

But she then says, okay, when we enter new time periods. Our link with our past self is weakened and therefore we’re more open to change. Doesn’t mean we will change, but we’re more open because we can change without feeling like a poor member of society, like a hypocrite.  

She then takes that hypothesis, because with behavioral science you can never argue something from logical alone, it has to be backed by an experiment. She takes that hypothesis and then she looks at a variety of different data sets, Google search volumes over time, for things like start dieting, quitting smoking, gym attendance, registration data, visitors to a site called Stick, where you make public pledges to change your behavior. And every one of those data sets, she sees the same pattern as you enter a new time period. Like this would be the beginning of the year, month, after birthday, after holiday, you see a pronounced spike in behavior change.  

So if you wanted to take that to a brand who is trying to change behavior, you would say, okay, these are the moments you should be focusing on to win your competitor’s customers. This is when they are going to be less beholden to sticking to their past behavior. But you’re absolutely right if you have a database of customers. The time that you want to communicate with them and make sure that they’re happy is when they enter these moments of flux. 

So if you knew their birthday was coming up, or you knew on an extreme version, they’re going to move house, or they’ve had a divorce, these more meaningful disruptions in their life. These are the times you could say, we need to be on our game because then our customers are likely to change their behavior. 

Rich: Yeah, getting in there right before they enter that moment of flux and locking in some of their behaviors, or locking in another year of contract, or whatever it may be. Definitely going to try that one out.  

So I did notice that the subtitle of your new book, The Illusion of Choice is “16- and one-half psychological biases that influence the way we buy”. I’m guessing you didn’t include the one half by chance. What was the behavioral psychology behind that 50 percent?  

Richard: It takes quite a long time to write books, so I needed to amuse myself while I was doing it. And I began to think as I was writing it, why not include some of the biases I’m talking about in the book format itself. So rather than it being 17 biases, I’ve got a very short chapter, which I call a half chapter, and it’s all about the power of precision.  

So I read a study a while ago by Schindler, who’s at Rutgers University, and it’s a lovely study because it’s quite simple, and it’s in the world of marketing. It shows people ads. So half the people see an ad for a deodorant, a bit of detail on the deodorant, and it says, “reduces perspiration by 50%”. So crucially, this is a round number, 50%. The other half see the same basic ad, but the figure changes. So that’s either a reduction of 53% or 47%.  

He then questions everyone as to how accurate they think the ad is and how believable they think the ad is. And when people see that precise number, believability goes up by about 5%, accuracy goes up by about 10%. The argument here is people in their everyday life through repeated exposure learn that if a communicator knows what they’re talking about, they tend to talk in specifics. If they’re speculating, they tend to talk in generalities.  

And the best way to think about this is to look at our own lives. If someone stops you on the street and says, “How old’s your brother?” You say, “He’s 51.” If they say, “How old is your neighbor five doors down? “You say, “Oh she’s in her sixties.” And when we know something, we naturally gravitate towards precision. When we’re speculating, we give up a vague answer. And over repeated exposure to that, what happens is people begin to conflate the things and think if there’s a specific number, it’s very accurate, it’s there for a very good reason and it’s believable. 

So really, the 16 and a half was a nod to Schindler’s precision bias. But it’s something you can definitely apply beyond subtitles. If you don’t give people 10 reasons why you can do something, give them 11 or 9, it feels like you’ve picked that number because it’s the right amount, not because of the arbitrary decimal system. 

Rich: The goal of many marketers and people listening to this podcast is to get more engagement online based on some of the psychological biases that you identify in your books. What are some of the ways that we can increase our engagement, say, on social media?  

Richard: Yeah. The other reason I wanted to do 16 and a half, and this will, I promise you, link, it’s distinctive. People get so used to seeing 20 reasons or 30 reasons or 10 reasons, it becomes wallpaper. So 16 and a half stands out because it’s distinctive. And if there is one long-standing finding from social psychology, it’s that we are hardwired to notice what’s distinctive. That’s probably one of the oldest findings in psychology. 

It goes back to 1933 and the work of Hedwig von Ressdorff, who – and I’ll slightly twist her experiment to simplify it – but what she basically did was give people lists of information. And let’s say it’s, oak tree, ash tree, fir, pine, squirrel, elm. And I’m running out of trees, bamboo. I don’t know if she gave people those types of lists and then took them away and asked people to recall what they could. Everyone would remember the squirrel, hardly anyone would remember pine and fir. 

What she was showing, and she did in lots of different variations, is essentially people are hardwired to notice what’s distinctive. So that is a very long-standing idea, but it’s one that marketers still ignore. Most people identify their category conventions, or the convention of the medium, and then they cling to it. 

So you take something like social media, and I would say it’s an extreme version of advertising in general, which is virtually everyone brags either from a personal level or from a brand level. Now you could say, if you looked at various different social psychology biases, you could say wait a minute. There’s a very well-known experiment by Elliot Aronson back in 1966 into the idea of the pratfall effect. What he essentially showed was if you admit a flaw, you become more appealing. And we can talk about the experiment if that is of interest. But I’m saying at the moment in that you want to be distinctive.  

You know everyone that surrounds on social media is going to show off, so why don’t you actually take a very different angle. Admit a flaw, and if you do, not only will you be noticed because you’ve given a tangible demonstration of honesty, you’ll be believed. And then if you’re super smart about it, don’t just pick a random weakness. Pick something that emphasizes a core strength.  

So think about Guinness. They used to go out and say, good things come to those who wait. That’s a brilliant flaw to admit. You’re making the flaw of slowness, but you’re drawing people’s attention to the fact that normally if something’s slow, it’s high quality. So that could just be one study, practical effect, that you could take from the thousands that are out there, and then use in a very practical way on social media. 

Rich: It’s interesting that you bring up that example. Because years ago, I remember watching a presenter on stage. And I happened to be sitting next to this marketer by the name of Marcus Sheridan, well-known here, and the guy was talking about all the famous people he knew and he had helped over the years, presidents and leaders and all these sort of people. And I just found myself really turned off by the entire approach. And Marcus leaned into me, who’s a great keynote speaker, and said he’s going about it all wrong.  

Like basically he’s turned everybody in the room against him. When you go up on stage, you want to show vulnerability. You want to show imperfection. That’s how you create a connection with the audience. Not exactly what you’re saying, but still along those same lines of the pratfall, where it’s like, it could be that your weakness is truly a strength. But it also could be because you’re now suddenly more approachable as well. 

Richard: Yeah. Actually I think your example is probably closer to the original pratfall experiment. So the original experiment, when Aronson was at Harvard, 1966, gets his colleague to take part in a quiz and gives the colleague all the answers. Guy gets 92 percent of the questions right, looks like a genius, wins the quiz by bloody miles. 

But then as the quiz is coming to a close, he makes a small blunder. He spills a cup of coffee down himself. Aronson takes that recording and he plays it to listeners. Sometimes he plays the entire incident. Sometimes he edits out the spillage. He then questions everyone as to how appealing they can find the contestant. And just as in your example, the group that hear the spillage as well as the amazing performance rate the contestant somewhere between 45 and 55 percent better than the group who only heard the amazing quiz performance. 

So you’re absolutely right. I think one of the big drivers of a flaw is about appeal. It makes other people less threatening. It makes them feel relatable. And it also, I think, if you are the one that’s like in your example, giving that flaw, you’re not just spilling the coffee, but you’re actually actively being self-deprecating, I think then it shows remarkable confidence as well. 

Rich: I think so, too. And it is interesting. So I went on a big woodworking binge partially out of COVID, and I started watching all these YouTube videos of different woodworkers. And one of the things that I’ve noticed is they’re very upfront about how many mistakes they make while they’re making a chair or a table. In fact, one guy’s line is always the ugly side goes against the wall. And I think it humanizes these people who are definitely ahead of me. And I like their sense of self-deprecating humor and I’m more interested in watching and even subscribing to their channel. So I think there’s a lot of advantages to showing all your warts, as some people say. 

Richard: Have you heard of Buckley’s? I know it’s massive in Canada, not very well known in the UK. So they’re a fascinating example. I think you say using the practical effect for humor. So I’ll get a positive history slightly wrong, but mid-eighties, it’s a family-owned cough syrup company. It’s like 10th or 11th in the Canadian market, but not challenging the big boys, the multinationals. They make the decision to, from then on, just to emphasize their bad taste. And they’ve been doing this for 40 years. The tagline is, “it tastes awful, but it works.” They’re now number one in the market, despite not spending as much as the multinationals. 

Now that is a lovely case study for the power of the practical. But also if you look at their ads, they’re amazingly funny. This bad taste that they’re prepared to admit. But frankly, everyone knows cough syrups are bad tasting, but they’re prepared to admit it. It allows them to be self-deprecating, and witty, and charming. 

So one of the ads says something along the lines of “largest bottle is 250 milliliters. Anymore would be cruel.” And then the tagline, “it tastes awful, but it works”. So I think you’re absolutely right. There is a close link between the admission of a flaw, and then that opens up great opportunity for humor. 

Rich: That also reminds me of Jägermeister when it came to the States and how awful it tasted. Nobody would ever drink Jägermeister in their right mind, but they made it like it was a challenge to be able to drink this.  

Richard: Ooh, I didn’t know that, yeah.  

Rich: Yeah. There’s a great story in one of the books out there about the marketing and stuff like that, but that was basically it. Nobody wanted to bring this to America. One guy decided to do it. It tastes like cough syrup, probably tastes like Buckley’s. But they twisted this so that all of a sudden it was a badge of honor.  

So it’s interesting. In one of your chapters, you talk about how we need to make things easier for consumers. But then you turn around in the next chapter and talk about applying the IKEA effect to make things a bit harder where labor leads to love. Any tips on how, as marketers, we know what is the right approach to take? When should we make things easier? And when should we make things harder?  

Richard: So firstly, if I was blindfolded, didn’t know what the challenge was, I would say make it easy. 90 percent of the time that is what you should be focused on. Interestingly, if you listen to interviews of the two behavioral scientists who have recently won a Nobel Prize, it’s for economics.  

So Thaler in 2019 maybe, Kahneman 2002, they both say very similar things when they’re asked about the single biggest learning from their experiments. They both say, make it easy. Now at first when people hear this, they normally think, oh my god, this is just a statement of the bleeding obvious. This is a statement of a self-evident truth. But the point they’re trying to make is everyone knows if you put up barriers to a product, it will put people off. But experiment after experiment shows experts, like marketers, underestimate the impact of those barriers.  

So we think if we build up enough motivation for our products, our customers will charge through barriers and go through lots of effort to get to our products. But what people like Bergen and Rogers, Kahneman and Thaler show, is that even what seem like very insignificant barriers can have a disproportionate effect. 

So the crucial thing here is, if you want to change someone’s behavior, removing friction is absolutely key. If you want to change behavior. However, not every brief wants to change behavior. Sometimes you might want to improve quality perceptions. Maybe a perception of low quality is your problem. You need to resolve that, and then you’ll change behavior.  

Now, if your barrier is quality, that’s one of the rare occasions where you should think about adding friction. So you mentioned the IKEA effect. A 2012 study, Michael Norton, Dan Ariely, what they basically do is recruit people, split them into two groups. One half go into a room and there is a pre-assembled, professionally assembled IKEA box, and the participants are asked, how much are you prepared to pay to take the box home with you? And there’s a derisory figure. Let’s say it’s something like 45 cents, roughly. It’s of that ilk.  

Next group go into the room. There’s the IKEA box, but it’s in 20 pieces. They have to build it themselves. They build the box, and then afterwards they get to bid on it. And there is something of the order, I can’t remember off the top of my head, but it’s a 50 or 60 percent. We’re not talking 5 or 6 percent, it’s the kind of order of 50 or 60 percent improvement in willingness to pay. 

So the argument from Norton is, the more effort we put into something, the more we appreciate it. They then rerun the study in slightly different settings, they keep on finding the same result. But the argument here would be, how can you add small bits of friction at the most opportune moment.  

So maybe you are a soft drink. There’s a beautiful Italian soft drink called San Pellegrino. They used to have these lovely little foil labels on the top of their cans. It’s just basically like a Pepsi can with a foil label on top. Now you could say, let’s make it really easy for people to order, to spot in the shop. It’s distinctive. But the friction we will add in is it’s slightly hard to get into the can. You have to peel the foil back and then you open.  

So here it’s not only picking the right challenge, you add friction when you want to improve a sense of quality. It’s not adding in randomly, it’s picking one very specific moment to do it. 

Rich: Yeah, that is interesting. And I wonder if part of this is also the idea of routine. So every time I take my daughter out and we go to a sushi restaurant, she always gets the weird blue sodas, the Japanese sodas. And there’s this thing where you have to push the ball down, which releases the carbonation or something like that. And there’s that routine that all of a sudden makes you feel, now obviously she’s not really doing much there, except it is sometimes tough to push it in. But there is that routine that all of a sudden creates this experience that she’s always seeking out too. So I wonder if some of that difficulty is in it. 

And there was a book that I read. And I’m trying to think of the name of her right now, but it was something about alchemy, and then there was a sub title…  

Richard: Oh, yeah. It sounds like one of Rory Southerland’s books.  


Rich: Yes. Yes. Exactly.  

Richard: Yeah. Wonderful book.  

Rich: And just talks about how sometimes making things more difficult just really adds to the perceived value as well. And that’s a fascinating approach.  

Richard: So I was going to say there’s two bits that I think are really interesting about that. So we’ve got the sometimes adding in a bit of quirkiness and a bit of effort can boost that sense of importance. Like with an iPod box. It doesn’t just pop open. There’s just enough friction to make it feel like a special event.  

But Apple, on the other hand, don’t add friction in every element. It’s not like they give you a form that’s 60 questions full. It’s a certain type of friction, and it’s only at rare moments, and it is to change that opinion of quality. 

But the other thing you mentioned is almost this sense of thinking about triggers. Was it a daughter or son you mentioned?  

Rich: Daughter, yeah.  

Richard: It’s not like she’s asking for that Japanese soda on every single day. It’s when she goes to the restaurant. And that, I think, is a psychological insight that an awful lot of behavior is cued by a specific environment, a specific time, or a specific mood. So that there is an argument for psychologists that often there is an intention to action gap.  

So you motivate someone to buy your chocolate bar or to have your beer. But what psychologists argue is that motivation doesn’t necessarily translate into ordering the beer and drinking the beer. The argument would be that motivation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for behavior change. What you need to do is combine that desire with a time, a place, or a mood people associate with your product. You then go through lots of different, super successful brands, and you see this happening. 

Now, champagne. Champagne is probably the most successful wine in the world. Now, why? Lots of wines taste very nice, but champagne is the only one that has a trigger moment. If you’re celebrating, if it’s New Year’s Eve, if you want to show off, these are the triggers to buy champagne. A fancy Merlot doesn’t have the same trigger. 

Miller time, five o’clock, now it’s a beer. Many brands do the hard work of boosting motivation, but they don’t do the much simpler thing of attaching their consumption to a particular time, place, or mood.  

Rich: Interesting. I’m thinking about we do a lot of website design and development with clients and getting content from them. And even getting them set up on our project management software of choice, which is Basecamp, can be challenging. And I’m always stressing to my team, we have to make this easier, we have to make this easier.  

I think there are times where we want to reduce the friction as much as possible, but then there are those times where we need to maybe figure out, like you said, how do you make things just a little bit more difficult so that there’s that feeling of maybe accomplishment as well when they’ve gotten this. So suddenly when their website goes live and they feel like they were part of it and they had to work hard for it, there’s a better feeling of reward when that website launches. Definitely something to play around with during that process.  

Richard: I agree with the play around. I think the interesting one there you mentioned around getting people to sign up. I would argue if you are at the beginning of a process, that is not the time to be adding in friction. The more people have worked with you, the more likely they are to be willing to put that effort in.  

So try and make things absolutely friction free to begin with. And then once you’ve developed a relationship, once people identify with your products and feel committed to it, then you might be able to get away with a bit of friction. So yeah, ideally simplify the beginning.  

Rich: Excellent. I was fascinated by the idea of uncertain rewards that you talk about. Uncertain rewards are more powerful than certain rewards. Can you explain that, unpack it, and maybe give us an example of how we might put that to work in our own marketing?  

Richard: So it’s a fascinating area. It’s a very longstanding area in psychology. First studies were done back in the 1930s by people like B.F. Skinner, where he found you could train and develop habits in animals, like rats or pigeons, much better with uncertain rewards than certain ones. So if you wanted to encourage a behavior, rather than giving a rat a sugar drop every time it did it, sometimes you give it one sugar drop, sometimes two, sometimes three. That sense of variability hardwires the behavior into the animal.  

When I first read about that, I thought that was fascinating. But until I get a brief that’s meant to be influencing rats and pigeons, I didn’t know what I could do with it. But then I came across another study by Luxi Shen, who showed you get exactly the same thing in humans. So basic experiment, she gets two groups of people. First group of people randomly selected, she brings them to a room, gives them I think, a three-pint glass of water, and says, “You’ve got to drink that in two minutes.” And there’s a 48 percent success rate, I think.  

Next group, same volume of water, same amount of time. Oh, and sorry, I should have said they have to drink it through a straw. So same volume of water, same amount of time. But the reward that’s offered changes. So in the first task, people were told you’ll be paid $2, if you succeed you get it. If you don’t you get nothing. Second group, they’re told if you succeed, we will flick a coin and if it lands on one side you get $2, if it lands on the other you get $1. So the expected utility of the gamble is $1.50 now. First group $2. What you’d expect if people were rationalizing, you’d expect them to be less motivated and therefore less likely to succeed.  

But that is not what happens. 72 percent of people succeed in that second scenario. So the argument from Luxi Shen is that part of our motivation is financial, part of our motivation is the excitement of a gamble. So the argument here is most loyalty schemes, most attempts to change behavior with incentives, are far too transactional and far too certain. People do something, you give them a stamp, they get a coffee. People shop, they get some points that they can later redeem. Luxi Shen would say you are wasting money, you could get the same effect on a smaller budget if you add an element of uncertainty and randomness to what people are given. 

Rich: I can certainly understand why people like to gamble, because I’ve been to Vegas. And even though I don’t really gamble, I see how addictive it can be. I’m surprised rats like to gamble. I just think that’s actually even more fascinating in this that rats would be more interested in the reward if they don’t know exactly what they might get each time. 

Richard: Yeah. And to be fair to Skinner, the result is slightly different. I was bracing, but it’s that the habit lasts longer. Sometimes you are training a rat to push this lever to get a sugar drop, and it always gets one drop per push. Other times it has sometimes zero, sometimes one, sometimes two, sometimes three. Overall average is one per push.  

What Skinner found was when you turned off that sugar supply, the rat in the first setting that always got one sugar drop per time, quickly the habit just deteriorates. It’s the rat in the second group that just keeps on pushing away that lever again and again. Maybe because in the past, no sugar has been followed by lots of sugar.  

So I wonder if the habit has been strengthened, almost inoculated from the occasional stopping of the stimulus. So yeah, with the animals it was very much about the habit becomes deep rooted and hardwired rather than fleeting. 

Rich: I definitely feel like there needs to be some more study in this because it’s fascinating. And I’m really curious to know, is it the risk and the unknown that is more attractive than actually the reward? Or what is it exactly that motivates us to be irrational and be more excited about $1.50 on average than $2? 

That’s really interesting. And I may think about how I do giveaways in the future rather than just reward people for signing up early. Maybe it’s if you sign up early, you might get 50 percent off or 25 percent off or nothing percent off. You’ll find out later.  

Richard: Yeah. I think one of my favorite examples is there is an upmarket chain of Indian restaurants in Britain called Dishu, and they have an offer where certain times of the week, if you go in and you have your meal with your friends, have all your drinks. At the end of the meal, you can ask for this brass dice called the maca, six sided dice. You can roll the dice, and if it comes up six, everything you’ve eaten or drunk is completely free. Now, when people win that, they go absolutely wild. It’s like they’ve won the lottery. 

But if you think about it from an economics perspective, from a business perspective, it’s like giving everyone a 16.66 percent discount. It’s not much. That 16 percent discount happens all the time in curry restaurants on quiet, non-peak periods. I think there’s something that you can see once you move from the experiments to the real-world examples. You can feel yourself getting excited about those types of gambles in a way that the certain discount wouldn’t generate a response.  

Rich: There was an Italian restaurant chain when I was growing up that did something similar, except it was a one out of a hundred chance. And I wonder if they wouldn’t have actually been even more successful if they would have gone with maybe at least a Dungeons and Dragons die, like 20-sided die, right? It would increase the number of people who won, because then you’d be like, oh, they won, oh, they won, maybe we’ll win. We didn’t, oh, maybe next time. But one out of a hundred, you rarely see people win. One out of six, you’re like, I should come here every day for a week. 

Richard: I know and I’m sure it has lots of effects. Like, once one person’s won, they’ll always post about it. It generates demand. They just do it at quiet periods, and they’re not forced. There’s hardly any downside. You’re probably ordering much more on the hopes, right? 

Rich: Richard, I feel like you and I could probably talk the rest of the day, but I’m going to let you go. But before I do, I just want to know for people who want to learn more about you, more about your books, where can we send them online? 

Richard: So books, probably the simplest place to go is Amazon. Two books, The Choice Factory or The Illusion of Choice. If people are interested on Twitter, I’m at @rshotton. And so I tweet about marketing psychology. Or LinkedIn, I post just about marketing psychology there as well. So any of those areas. 

Rich: And we’ll of course have those links in the show notes. Richard, absolute pleasure today. Thank you so much.  

Richard: Fantastic. Good to chat. 

Show Notes:  

Richard Shotton applies behavioral science to marketing, helping brands of all sizes use insights from behavioral studies solve their marketing problems. Be sure to check out both of his books, and connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn 

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 25+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.