Businesses have gotten wise to our tendency to be consistent with what we have previously done or said, harnessing the Commitment Bias for commercial gain.

This premise is based on our ‘lazy brain’; we are mentally lazy and therefore once we have connected with a brand and understand their commitment to the wider world, and us, we go on autopilot. Habit has been formed and we have a shortcut to choosing what to buy.

We recently spoke about Toms’ fascinating commitment strategy to ‘improve people’s lives through business’ on BBC Radio 4’s The Virtue of Commitment, part of the Thought Cages series that explores fresh, intriguing and iconoclastic ideas.

By helping a person in need for every product purchased, be it shoes, sunglasses, coffee or bags, Toms’ is an inspirational example of the growth of brands with purpose. In just over a decade the company has given away over 60 million pairs of shoes in over 70 countries and restored sight to over 400,000 people in need. Toms is making customers feel great about themselves and the brand.

Brands need to reflect consumer's values

Consumers desire brands that reflect their values, to the point that they are happy to pay more for them, but this isn’t the only reason that a commitment strategy is good business.

Deploying a commitment strategy such as Toms’ provides demonstrable evidence of a brand’s story, adding value to brand equity, which means more value to the balance sheet. There’s the added-appeal of the brand too, reaching a wider audience as well as delivering more customers and sales.

Companies also find employees are highly engaged and there’s increased value to stakeholders. And there’s the reputational benefit, evident in Heineken’s anti-drink-driving campaign.

A by-product of a commitment strategy is bottom-line growth. Disney leveraged commitment bias on hotel guests, asking them to pledge to reuse their towels with a free ‘Friends of the Earth’ pin to wear. Guests were 25% more likely to reuse their towels when they had pledged, providing an estimated annual saving of washing 147,000 towels, 700,000 gallons of water and $51,000.

Disney and Toms understood that by applying an understanding of behaviour to their business operation they could make commercial gain while improving lives and the environment. We are also convinced of its value. Visit our behavioural economics hub to find out how it can be the route to persuasive and effective marketing campaigns

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.

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By Sue Benson

Managing Director