man at the station with a mobile

Want to influence consumer behaviour? Then take a fresh look at OOH

20 July 23

“I no longer listen to what people say, I just watch what they do. Behaviour never lies.” 

Winston Churchill

Understanding consumer behaviour provides the necessary insight to craft compelling marketing campaigns. To convince people to choose your brand.

But influencing consumer behaviour is not easy. Old habits die hard, and consumers are stubborn when it comes to adopting any innovation that requires behavioural change. Technology and data have transformed how we connect and interact with the world. Marketers continue to adopt new strategies; omnichannel, mobile-first and O2O to influence consumer behaviour with tactics around FOMO, social norms and the urgency effect.

But one of the most powerful ways you can get someone to change their behaviour is to suggest that everyone else is doing it. Human beings generally like to fit in. We thrive when part of a stable social group, and conforming is a tried and tested approach to maintaining equilibrium in our lives. Obviously, strategists are clearly outliers to this notion, but you get my point. 

This analysis suggests that changing human behaviour is not about changing an individual's opinion but suggesting that everyone around them has changed theirs. Marketing is littered with examples of this social proofing in play. A famous example is from the nudge unit who sent reminders from Revenue and Customs for people pay their outstanding taxes, and those which stressed other people living in the same area had already paid theirs generated a higher return rate.

This ‘localisation’ of social norms not only reveals how powerful it is, but also demonstrates how important OOH is for brands wishing to drive behavioural change. The OOH media infrastructure is designed around patterns of consumer behaviour, and lends itself strongly to behavioural media planning, with targeting triggers around locations, communities, and context. With diverse formats in multiple environments and social settings, OOH is ideal for advertisers looking to shift perceptions, attitudes and ultimately behaviour towards their brands and the purchase of their products/services. 

Consumer behaviour and beliefs are changing fast. The cost-of-living crisis and climate change are altering consumers’ mindset and motivations. To keep up and influence these changes brands must understand consumers both from a demographic and psychographic perspective to develop successful campaigns.  

Behavioural Science studies how emotions, the environment, and social factors influence our decisions. It suggests that to influence consumer behaviour brands must analyse beliefs, values and need states more closely and align messages to consumer mindsets.  For example, with climate change there’s an opportunity for brands to shape emerging habits around sustainability through product innovation or reinforce new habits like the ‘staycation’ through contextual cues.

In the current socio-economic climate, brands should look to OOH as a public and trusted medium to leverage familiarity from habitual media consumption patterns and use premium inventory to build brand trust. Using environments where people habitually cluster, such as rail stations, city centres or shopping malls is another consideration for social proofing and location call outs to amplify impact. 

 And familiar settings also offer the opportunity for disruption. With almost limitless creative possibilities, OOH ads that surprise or stand out in familiar settings are guaranteed to grab attention, a much sought after marketing commodity. And when consumers are surprised and delighted by new experiences, even long-held beliefs can change, making them more willing to repeat a new behaviour. New habits are easier to form in moments of change, discontinuity or alertness. So, using dynamic DOOH with trigger-based targeting in those contextually relevant moments, such as the start of a new week, or the beginning of the school holidays, can shape and sustain behavioural change.

We already know that location has a strong influence on advertising response. Our moods are enhanced by social settings; what you are doing, who you are with, when you are doing it, and what your mindset is at that time. And how we consume OOH media has an important bearing on what we think and feel about brands and how we respond to advertising messages.

 Our ‘Point of Search’ study into mobile search behaviour, with Clear Channel, JC Decaux, and Global, found that mobile searches out of home are triggered by location needs, senses, and feelings, adding value to enhance consumer experiences. They are also 38% more likely to lead to a purchase compared to searches done at home. 

 So as we spend more time online, connected via our smartphone or watch, and competition for consumer attention intensifies, I’m staggered that OOH remains a minority medium. It’s the oldest advertising medium, as ubiquitous and integrated into our daily patterns as anything digital. OOH has been proven to drive behaviour change and is perfectly placed to capitalise on those moments of interaction in the digital age.  

 Thinking about my opening gambit around social norms, and an industry that prides itself on thinking differently, it’s amazing how it continues to be influenced by them. Maybe the behaviour change we most need to see is in ourselves. 

Scott Green, Strategy Director

Posterscope has partnered with Behavioural Planning Agency, Total Media, to produce a report into Behavioural Planning for Marketers. You can download “The Human Factor” here Posterscope