Behavioural economics is helping governments and businesses to read our thoughts and change our behaviour for their benefit.
I’ve never liked food shopping or supermarkets. I especially don’t like navigating overlit aisles after a busy day in an air-conditioned office. It’s worse for those with kids who know that all hell can break loose in the fruit and vegetable section.
Finding a bargain in these circumstances can be almost impossible. The carefully positioned “Best value” and “Super deal” signs are distracting, and the price comparisons are worse again.
That brand of shampoo I like is €6.79, and the little red flag underneath informs me that’s 10 cent cheaper in this shop than in a rival store. Good news.
But wait now, the tin of beans is 95 cent, and another little red flag says it’s also 95 cent at the main rival’s store. Why am I being told this seemingly useless piece of information? Will this influence my shopping habits? Why highlight this product and not another?
The key here is focus. I am distracted, tired and usually irritated when shopping. The supermarket wants to focus my attention on the fact that it offers good value and I don’t need to shop around.