We tend to be consistent with what we have previously done or said we will do, particularly if this is in public. The more people that know about our pledge, the less willing we are to change it. Inconsistency is not seen as an admirable trait and we don't want to disappoint those around us by going back on our promise. So, if we commit to something publicly, we are more likely to stick with it. “Commitments are often used as a tool to counteract people’s lack of willpower and to achieve behaviour change… the greater the cost of breaking a commitment, the more effective it is”(Dolan et al., 2010)

Classic examples of Commitment bias…

John Lewis are a cut above the rest when it comes to commitment. Since 1925, they’ve been leading the way with their price promise pledge, ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’. In their own words, it’s “the heart of everything we do and part of the service you’ve come to expect of us”.

They’re committed to pricing their products fairly and if it’s available at a lower price somewhere else on the market, they’ll happily match the price. The reasonable, thoughtful and customer-centric approach means people are bound to build brand trust.

Behavioural Economics, John Lewis
2012 TV ad still for John Lewis' Never Knowingly Undersold campaign

Who’s using it now?

More and more brands are branching out into the world of commitment, giving their brand a human, compassionate, approachable edge.

In 2004, Dove showed their commitment to redefining beauty with their campaign, “Real Beauty”, which featured real, everyday women. The campaign came off the back of their “Real Beauty Pledge”, which is a promise aimed at women all over the world:

  1. We always feature real women, never models
  2. We portray women as they are in real life
  3. We help girls build body confidence and self-esteem
Behavioural Economics, Dove Real Beauty campaign
Dove 'Real Beauty' campaign, 2004

The campaign photographs were shot by renowned photographer and Creative Director, Mario Testino. Featuring 32 real women from over 15 countries, all aged 11 to 71, the campaign perfectly reflected Dove’s pledge. And since then, the definition of beauty has taken on multiple meanings, fully embracing real women.

With the environmental-warrior coming out in a lot of us off the back of plastic pollution, Iceland have shown their commitment to the cause. They pledge to remove the plastic packaging from its own label products by 2023 simply “because we care”, making a bold commitment to something that pulls at a lot of consumer’s heart strings.

Stick to your commitments…

Although most brands are using public pledges successfully, some have also missed the mark. Countless companies guarantee that they’ll deliver products within a certain timeframe, which for customers, when it works, it works wonders.

Toys R Us however infamously failed to deliver packages on time during the festive season. As a result, they not only angered parents and disappointed children, but they damaged their reputation in the process. So, lesson learnt. If you’re going to commit to something, stick to it.

What is Behavioural Economics?

Behavioural Economics has been around since the 60s. It blends elements of psychology and economics to identify the mental triggers, or bias, nudges and heuristics, that affect the decisions people make.

This blog series is your go-to guide for a snapshot into what these triggers are, and how they can be used in marketing to influence consumer behaviour.

A bit about us

As an agency, influencing behaviours is core to what we do and applying Behavioural Economics to marketing communications is a natural progression. If you are interested in understanding more about how we do this get in touch now.

Find out more about the connection between consumers and behavioural economics in our latest report on the top trends driving consumer behaviour. Download it here.

By Phil Monks

Deputy Creative Director