16 March 2021

Behavioural economics – part two

Behavioural economics – part two

Technique #2: Peer influence and injunctive social norms

Peer influence

In all walks of life, when we are uncertain or unconfident about what to do, we often look to our peers or influencers to guide us. We value their opinions and then emulate their behaviours.

This behaviour is hardwired into us. However, with the rise of e-commerce and social media, we can obtain more peer guidance without the need for awkward or personal conversations. After all, it can be a little inappropriate to quiz your work buddy on healthcare and salary-related matters!

So, how can employers provide peer-related guidance without rounding up all the people their employees trust? Start by simply highlighting key peer-related stats in benefit and pension communications.

Using benefit and contribution take-up rates and compiling it in conjunction with wider demographic and employee data and trends, employers can personalise communications by promoting benefits that colleagues ‘like them’ have selected. Benefit providers will have much larger data sets available that can help with this, such as country-wide and industry-wide stats.

Here’s a simple benefits example:

Gymflex *Bestseller*

Don’t waste money on full-priced gym memberships – save yourself up to 42%!

Take control of your fitness and finances this year. Access corporate rate memberships to over 1,500 gyms in the UK.

Click here to see how much you can save.

*75% of your [peers/colleagues/people like you] have selected this benefit

Social norms

Social norms are the perception of behaviours that we are expected to carry out in society. These include both positive behaviours that are encouraged (being honest) and negative behaviours that aren’t condoned (littering, cheating, etc.).

Like peer influence, abiding with social norms has been part of the human psyche for thousands of years. It is coded in us to help us stick together and survive. It’s fair to say it’s quite a powerful trait. Therefore, it can play a powerful part in delivering engaging communications.

By connecting a proposed action with a positive social norm, employers can help employees see information, or choices, in a new way – almost like a ‘penny-drop’ moment.

For example, society encourages parents to take care of their children. Therefore, employers can encourage their staff or members to fill out their Expression of Wish forms, or use a will writing service, by targeting communications to those with children and using language focused on the relevant social norm.

Here’s a benefit-related example:

Not only are our children the future, but they’re our everything right now.

Company X have put together a list of benefits specifically designed to help protect your children today, and if the worst were to happen to you tomorrow.

Log in to the benefits platform and click ‘Protect your family’ to do so before the window closes this Friday.

Next week, read about the final part in the series, framing using outcome-based communications.