Monday, December 20, 2010

Behavioural Economics in the printing world

Canon Pixma: Bringing colour to life from Dentsu London on Vimeo.

About 7 tears ago I was given a brief for a major printing company about making people value their ink more. This particularly large technology company make 70% of their profits from ink, so it was kind of important. Being a big global company they had made an unreal TV ad, beautiful OOH, print and what was simple digital banners (which is all you did in those days). The concept was to demonstrate and glorify how awesome their ink could be. Then people would be willing to pay the extra 30% for it.

Looking closer at the consumer and their behaviour you could see they really valued the brands ink and all the metrics were great. But when it ran out they walked in store with little information on the product or with their previous cartridge in hand. Usually in a bad mood as the experience took way too much brain power and wasted so much time. Then the sales person in the store would say.. 'dont get that brand its too expensive. Get this one as its way cheaper'. It was more expensive as it included the driver as well, which made the prints a lot better quality but they didnt want to try and explain that as it was a quick sale.

I was in a meeting with the client and said why dont you just give out a software pack with every colour printer you sell (they had 65% of the market) that links people online to a store directly loading up the information of their ink cartridge when the ink begins to run out. Probably wouldnt cost you much to make the software and use the couple of million in the budget to pay to put it in the boxes and change the packaging to sell 'a connected offering'. I was kind of stared out by everyone in the room. Being 2003, social software and usage of sites like amazon hadnt really broken into the mainstream.

I walked away realising we are in advertising and that is it. I felt a little down because I thought it was a much simpler idea. The brand tracking had shown that they loved our ink, they just didnt buy it. So we needed to cut out the middle man. I realised in probably a very naive viewpoint that surely there was potential in this sort of thinking. More recently Rory Sutherland's drive for behavioural economics for the IPA and growth of social software / amazon style websites into the mainsteam. You start to see that the value of that sort of thinking in agency land is crucial for our survival. I guess I took the concept of agencies as 'ideas factories' a little too directly. I didnt realise we were restricted to ideas that played out in ads.

Fast forward to now and behavioural economics is the thing that everyone is talking about. But I question, is it too late? As clients have an expectation of what we do and what they pay us for. How do we open our clients expectations and the boundaries that they give us... as much as we have created for ourselves. But in order to change their viewpoints of us everyone on the frontline must believe in the future change. The thing that really worries me the most is how do we change the mentality of people within agencies who find meeting expectations and playing within those boundaries easier to get them home in time to watch The Apprentice. It is a hard thing to change people to something they don't feel comfortable doing and might cause them to miss their favourite TV show that evening as it takes a little longer to explore. Imagine how the clients feel?

Seeing this great video from Dentsu London reminded me of that same brief although slightly different. It looks awesome but is the question how do you change people's perceptions of printing or is it how do you drive people to push the print button to regain value in the tangible. Does a cool ad do that ?? I dont know maybe it will

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