With a subject as broad as consumer decision making, and speakers from such different world as a big financial firm (Theo van Uffelen, Aegon), a tech company (Devina Mahajan, Google) and a comedian (Paul Smit, Philosopher and Comedian), it seems unlikely for a general theme to arise. Yet the unexpected happened, as all speakers were in unison on what turned out to be the central subject: decision making is barely a rational process. This means that consumers have to be helped, can be influenced, and are left to the biology of their brain to make decisions for them.

For Aegon, this results in a challenge of going “from the brain to the heart”. Difficult for a company dealing in products such as pensions that are more likely to be rational, and the associated feelings, if any, are mostly negative.

But is it really that rational? The rational homo economicus we know from our intro into economics would love to spend a couple of hours to optimize his pension scheme for the rest of his life. Yet we much rather rather sit on the couch all evening binge-watching Game of Thrones.

In their new campaign, Aegon show that they understand this. By pinpointing the gap between what we want to do, and what we know we ought to do, Aegon came up with a number of funny commercials. They combine this with the offer of any consumer (not just clients) to get a free consult on their financial situation. This campaign has resonated well, and it results in higher NPS and better brand image!

Google told us about the 150 times per day (!) we take out our mobile phone, and every time we do something with it, Google considers a “micro-moment”. A moment where we want to entertain, connect, learn, interact, buy et cetera. Video is involved in a huge part of these micro-moments, and can be a powerful tool in influencing the customer decision journey. The challenge is to do video in a good way. Personally, I am sick of having to sit through the same unskippable AXE commercial on YouTube over and over and over again.

Google sees 4 different video micro-moments: entertainment, learning and researching, seeking instruction and deciding-what-to-buy-moments. It seems obvious to focus on the latter, but this is not always the case. For example, Unilever managed to get a lot of traction with young women by understanding the importance of the I-want-that-look-moments young women go to beauty-vloggers for. This got them over 50 million views in over 5 countries.

So video is a very powerful tool indeed, yet doing video the right way is not easy. It requires a deep understanding of what (micro-)moments are there for your brand to interact with your target group. And you need to really understand what makes your target audience tick, and how you can make truly compelling and engaging video content for them. Sounds to me like something a customer insight agency could help with.

Paul Smit closed the evening, talking about influencing the brain in many ways, but always combining neuropsychology with humor. We were shown how our perception is unreliable, our decision-making is quick an irrational, how the chemical balance of our brain affects our personality, and many more brain-teasing facts. Even though I am completely unfit to review a comedian, it’s safe to say that he left us with valuable insights into our own behavior and something to talk about during the drinks!