How To Turn Behavioural Science Into A Powerful Sales Driver

FMCG brands need to understand their customers’ behaviour when choosing the right strategy and digital environment to sell their products on e-commerce platforms. The science of heuristics can help.

How To Turn Behavioural Science Into A Powerful Sales Driver

by Andrew Watts

Posted on 10-19-2017

The grocery e-commerce channel is facing its biggest shake-up to date. The majority of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands are committed to increasing their sales on this channel, but are presented with three key challenges.

First, they want their brands to be better represented within grocery e-commerce platforms. Unilever is leading the way here with its “hero imagery” strategy that optimises product imagery for online shopping by stripping out unnecessary detail but without rendering the product unrecognisable.

Second, grocery e-commerce brands invest most of their resources in offering compelling prices. This is often to the detriment of brand values, and it also ignores a vast swathe of other influences that motivate shoppers.

Third, the digital purchase journey is not linear or predictable, which, in a multi-channel era, presents the challenge of where and how to invest marketing budget. The options and opportunities can seem endless.

Adopting a direct-to-consumer model to avoid these issues is an option, but that begs the question: Why would a consumer go to 30 different sites to fulfil their shopping missions?

3 Questions To Ponder

Brands are regularly asking themselves:

A website is an essential part of a brand’s arsenal, whether it has an e-commerce function or not. Its place in the sales path varies on a brand-to-brand basis, so it’s vital that marketers identify the most efficient and effective role it can play that is individual to their brand.

All marketers know that social media is an essential investment. But, as it’s still a nascent area of the market, using it as a trackable part of the e-commerce machine is a challenge that needs to be addressed.

With such a broad range of channels at a modern marketer’s disposal, and limited solid research available to help inform their decisions, it’s easy for brands to feel overwhelmed.

Understanding Consumer Behaviour

While price and need will always be significant factors in consumers’ purchasing decisions, they are not the only ones that influence sales. We are all hardwired to go through a series of mental shortcuts that help us justify a purchase decision, whatever the category. Psychologists call these shortcuts heuristics.

To comprehend consumer behaviour, brands and retailers could benefit from investing in understanding the science of heuristics. There are 128 heuristics, and, working with Durham University Business School, we have identified the nine relevant to purchase decisions. We call these “sales triggers.” They provide a framework that makes behavioural science usable, shaping messaging and marketing activity to help brands and retailers sell.

Benefits Of Segmentation

There are three main digital environments that your brand can use to drive traffic to e-commerce sales: your website, digital media, and social channels. By mapping your brand’s key values and benefits to consumer purchase behaviour, each of these digital environments can leverage different sales triggers:



There is a strong case for using different triggers in specific digital environments to make the most of your marketing spend in each channel. Our research with Durham University will go a long way to proving that each channel should be treated separately, and the old model of relying on one umbrella idea to sit across all media environments is no longer relevant.

We have demonstrated this through our work on a digital “shop-in-shop” for Samsung. It was developed exclusively to feature on more than 50 electrical retailers’ e-commerce platforms. We’ve designed and built immersive content to present the key features of the Samsung TV/AV range, simplifying choice for consumers and guiding them through a considered purchase. The results have been impressive, driving significant online sales.

Use Behavioural Science To Drive Brand Choice

Behavioural science can be the new weapon for brands tackling the ongoing challenge of driving sales within the e-commerce channel. By segmenting the messaging used in the three key channels that link to e-commerce, brands can identify the most effective ones and tailor their marketing activity accordingly.

This strategy will be at the forefront of the paradigm shift of creating more effective e-commerce marketing. We look forward to helping brands making the journey.

Topics: Insights & Inspiration, Experience Cloud, Digital Transformation, CMO by Adobe