Don’t confuse promotion with persuasion

In 2012 a Government promotion offered financial aid for consumers to insulate their homes.

You insulate your loft, the Government heavily subsidises the cost, and you make your initial outlay back in less than twelve months through reduced energy bills.

Clearly it was a no brainer. Except it wasn’t. Take up was nowhere near expectation.

Research was undertaken to establish why people were not persuaded by a seemingly simple and so obviously beneficial promotion.

The answer, people’s lofts are full of clutter and so loft insulation is just too hard to do.

So as a trial, the Government introduced a loft clearing service. A team would come to your house and empty the contents of your loft, sorting it out into things to tip, things to sell and things to put back.

And whilst the cost of the insulation and subsidised clearance service was more than twice the cost of insulation alone, the service was over three times more popular.

Proving that what people should do and what they actually do are two different things.

Turns out most people love easy more than they love cheap.

The lesson is this, if you want to influence decisions, you first have to understand what drives them.

It’s this understanding of how humans work, not just how marketing works, that can insulate promotions from ineffectiveness.