Matthew Willcox on Behavioral LENS Framework 

Matthew uses a framework called the behavioral LENS, where LENS is a short form for the important constituents of his framework. In this podcast section Matthew explains the framework. We give a short summary on his LENS framework based on his observations below.

L for Loss Aversion

LENS has four, four parts, the first part is the idea of loss. So L is for loss and loss is really the the notion of how the prospect of a loss affects our choices. Loss works in many ways. Loss motivates us to do something. If we feel that there is a prospect of losing it, we might want to grab it.

One of the most important conversations Matthew has with marketers is about how the prospect of loss may stop people from doing things. So one of the things that Matthew does in his workshops is to get marketers to think about what might people fear losing that stops them from adopting the behavior change we want them to make. Matthew cites a quote from Ron Heifetz of Harvard Kennedy School- ‘People aren’t change averse. What they are really is loss averse. In every change, there is a possibility of a potential loss’.

E for Ease

The second part of LENS is E for ease. And this is something we all know about. We all take the easiest path to do things. He cites a quote from Richard Thaler, the Nobel Prize winning behavioral economist ‘ I have learned two things, working with practitioners. The first one is that if you want someone to do something, make it easy ‘. It is embedded in human nature to follow the easy pathway. And this affects choice in a number of ways. We will often bypass a decision that seems difficult, because there is an easier route. Or we will simply put something off, because it seems too difficult.

Ease is not just physical ease. Ease covers many different things. There was a study done a number of years ago that showed that when an ice cream cabinet was closed, sales went down. When the cabinet is opened back up, again, the sales come back. Cognitive ease is also an incredibly important thing. Byron Sharp talks a lot about ‘brands being mentally available’. Mental availability is a form of ease. If your brand is more mentally available than some other brand, it is easier to bring that brand to mind. If the associations or brand narrative that you have fits together easily, it becomes an easier brand to choose.

Mr. Stevenson, a Professor at Stanford , talks about how we were addicted to comparisons. And one of the reasons for this is that it is very difficult to make a choice in isolation. We are always looking for reference points from which to make choices. And if as a marketer can create reference points that guide customers towards a choice they want to make, the marketer is making that choice easier.

We don’t look at everything and try to build a mental model for it from the ground up. We try to figure out something similar we know and compare it. Because that is easier. So another part of ease is how do you create the right comparisons for your customer that will help you achieve your objectives.

N is for Now or Near

The N stands for now and near. So it should ideally be a double N. By ‘now or near’ we mean, temporal proximity. This is based on the notion of how time (and our perceptions of time) and distance affects the choices we make. Matthew talks about ‘Construal Level Theory’ which is the idea that when things have lesser or greater social distance, physical distance, or temporal distance, we regard them quite differently. And that can be very helpful as a marketer. He cites the example of luxury brands, where as a marketer you want to create a distance. Distance is a good thing for luxury brands. The idea that we have a lot of work to do before we understand a brand works very well for luxury brands. Obviously this doesn’t work well for the brands that you use on a day to day basis or for more functional purposes.

S stands for Self and Social

S stands for self and social. ‘Social’ is about how other people affect our choices. This is based on the idea of social proof, of how the behavior of others affects our choices.

And self is really important as well, because how we feel about ourselves is incredibly important in determining our choices. It is important, from a marketing perspective, to ensure that the choice you want people to make aligns with their self concept, with how the customers feel about themselves or how they want to project themselves. Because when a choice doesn’t align with a customer’s self concept, she is less likely to make it.

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