What is Nudge Theory?
What is Nudge? Don't those cakes look tasty.

What is Nudge Theory?

We’re often asked, what is Nudge Theory? Maybe you’ve heard something about it, but many people haven’t. In a nutshell it’s a way of influencing people to make a specific choice of behaviour. It’s about how we communicate a message. This can be at a governmental policy level, but also at an organisational and at an individual level. So you could join many other people who use Nudge in your day to day work. (that was a nudge)

How could you use Nudge Theory?

You could use Nudge Theory in a wide variety of circumstances. Firstly any situation where you want people to follow a certain process. This could be an online procedure, using FAQs, submitting a form, or making a request in a specific way. 

Next it could be a physical behaviour you would like people to follow. This might be a route in your offices, car park, cafeteria or stairways.

You might want colleagues to change their behaviour towards health. This could be in promoting healthy eating options, or promoting physical exercise.

With customers it can help in how you communicate options, or a required processes.

The applications are almost endless and we’ll describe some examples here.

Do you choose a small, medium or large coffee?
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Nudge Theory in Communications

Nudge Theory is all about how you communicate. This starts with the framing of your message. What context or positioning do you give the recipient of your message. For example, if I want to influence your shopping behaviours towards more environmental optons, I could start by asking you a rhetorical question; ‘How important is the environment to you?’ or, ‘Would you prefer to reduce your use of packaging in shopping?’ or, ‘Would you prefer to reduce the amount of packaging we put into the ground in landfill?’

This simple framing attempts to put your mind in the context of the environment before you make a choice of packaging. When you are then presented with the choices of packaging available, your mind is primed towards an environmental choice.

Nudge in presenting choice

Nudge gives you ideas on how to present choice. Choice is a really important part of Nudge. Whilst you have a preferred choice you would like your target to make, with Nudge they always have a choice. Nudge does not remove choice, it presents it differently. Nudge theory gives you a set of guidelines on how to present choice, to encourage your target to make your preferred choice.

Nudge Theory is Simple

The idea of Nudge Theory and how we have broken it down into trainable ideas is simple. How to apply it to different situations needs careful thought. We’ve spent time creating a number of concepts which can be easily understood and then we help you to apply them to your world.

And one of the ideas in Nudge is Make it Simple. You probably won’t find a better example of this than Amazon. Amazon make it incedibly easy to buy anything. The ordering process is very easy. Although this might seem an obvious thing for any online retailer to do, when we compare Amazon to to others we see how good Amazon are.

Nudge is about Learning

You might not get it right first time and part of Nudge is how you learn from trying an option and learning from the outcome. Many practitioners of Nudge use a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) to test various options. This idea of learning what is the best way to use Nudge is really important. It is crucial to try different options and have an open minded approach.

What is Nudge Training

In our Nudge training participants discuss the challenges they would like Nudge to help with. We explain each Nudge idea and illustrate with different examples. To conclude we then apply the ideas to their situations and challenges. To read more got to our pages on Nudge Training.

What about the cakes?

Hopefully now you have part of an answer to the question to What is Nudge.

But what about the cakes?

In the photo above you can see someone choosing a cake. Is Nudge used here? Absolutely. The display of cakes will position the most popular, tasty and tempting cakes so that they are easy for the customer to see. the Nudge principle of ‘make it easy’ is at play here. The retailer makes it as easy as possible for the customer to see the most tempting tasty cakes. And they keep the display fresh all day. Yum.

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