This is the third in a series of “Happy Hour” events produced by the Creative Council on bringing researchers, creatives, and strategists closer together. Rory Sutherland, a strong proponent of behavioral science, shared his perspective on the ways that behavioral science thinking can potentially unlock solutions to creative and marketing problems that might not be apparent to “rational” business thinkers.
In Sutherland’s eyes, behavioral science can offer “magical” marketing solutions. This is an opportune moment for behavioral science. The pandemic, Sutherland believed, has turned every business question into a behavioral science question (“What will people do? And how can you encourage them to do things differently?”), because all decisions based on prior experience or prior practice may no longer serve as useful guides.
His key theme is that human beings have not evolved to “respond to facts or objective qualities,” but to “meaning,” which is “context-dependent.” Meaning determines what we buy, rather than objective qualities. In an expansive presentation on this theme, followed by questions from two Creative Council moderators and attendees, he noted a number of memorable examples and shared trenchant insights about marketing on a wide range of topics, from evolutionary psychology to innovation to the role of government to the appropriate messaging on COVID.