Training and development

A beer lesson in “consumption design” for behavioural influence

Engel Schmidl /

Some great examples have popped up recently of how the behaviour of buyers can be influenced by the physical experience that goes with consumption – let’s call it ‘consumption design’.

Too speedy on the beer-y? It might be the glass

Hey, there’s an excuse for guzzling that beer – the glass is curved! Researchers at the University of Bristol (and by the way, kudos for pitching that to the research board!) found that people tend to drink more quickly out of curved glasses because it is harder to gauge how much has been consumed.

No big gulp for the Big Apple

In a controversial move, New York City’s Board of Health has banned super-sized (16oz/470ml) soft-drink containers. Detractors see it as an encroachment on personal liberty (and stifling vendors) whereas advocates claim it will help fight obesity. The behavioural science clearly demonstrates that when provided a larger serving, we consume more so the decision is grounded in fact: it’s the matter of whether government should have the right to determine the size of the serve that remains contentious.

Stop getting chip-faced

I’ve mentioned this one before, but have you ever found yourself chomping through more chips than you intended? Researchers looking into self-control dyed chips red before inserting them at set intervals in the Pringles-like tubular packet. Without impacting the taste of the chip they found that when people were cued by a visual ‘stop’ signal, they ate less. Maybe we need every third Tim Tam to be red?

The lesson from these examples? “Consumption design” is a reminder that every element of your product experience will impact consumption. It takes things a bit further than product design and means that your role doesn’t end at the production line – think about how and where your product will be experienced and design according to the behaviour you want to facilitate.

Bri Williams runs People Patterns Pty Ltd, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues. Bri is a presenter, consultant and author who you can find out more about at www.peoplepatterns.com.au, viabri@peoplepatterns.com.au or by following on Twitter @peoplepatterns. Bri’s book, “22 Minutes to a Better Business”, about how behavioural economics can help you tackle everyday business issues, is available through the Blurb bookstore.

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