Behavioral science researchers have found patterns in the way people look at the world, how they process information, and how they respond. This knowledge allows the healthcare marketing researchers to better understand the market and design messages accordingly to the type of person that is more likely to respond, whether they are a patient or a physician. The field of behavioral science has impacted healthcare marketing research by providing a rigorous approach to understanding the drivers of behavior. At its core, behavioral science uses the scientific method to introduce theories that guide observed behavior towards a targeted alternative. This approach is more effective than any specific methodology used in market research.
Now, before digging into the context of how impactful behavioral economies are in healthcare market research, let’s first understand what behavioral sciences are.
What are Behavioral Sciences?
Though it’s not a brand-new industry, behavioral science has been thrust into the spotlight of market research in recent years. Its purpose is to study the various elements that influence someone’s habits or decision-making. And most notably, it aids in understanding why people opt for certain choices.
When thinking about marketing and product strategies, it’s important to consider behavioral science. There are numerous methods available today to understand consumer behavior, but some of them lack empirical evidence. Methods that provide sensory information and document behaviors through experimentation are more likely to be accurate. As a result, the importance of behavioral science in market research cannot be understated. However, market researchers are still largely trying to figure out how to best take advantage of this area of study.
Big data can be used as a possible solution, which has the potential to provide insights that help us better understand people and solve problems. Firstly, it gives us access to troves of information that we never could have dreamed of before. This data can include everything from people’s buying habits to web analytics and subscription information. Having all of this data readily available can help to bridge the gap between the stated and observed behavior. Secondly, having access to large data sets that include the big 5 personality traits of millions of people can give us some insight into what motivates our consumers. By understanding different personalities, we can see if being “extroverted” or “conscientious” is a major factor when it comes to purchasing decisions.
Case Study of Behavioral Economics in Healthcare Market Research- Ontario Water Company
A great example of how behavioral economics can be put into practice comes from the Ontario Water Company. The local authority was looking at having to spend a lot of money to build a second water filtration plant. To try and encourage residents to use less water, they came up with a plan to offer lower rates for those who used less water.
The team was uncertain about which type of campaign would be most successful, so they conducted a controlled experiment to compare standard leafleting (which explained the per-household cost if consumption were not reduced) to an approach embodying some behavioral economics principles. The second sample used students to explain the imperative need to reduce consumption and asked households to sign a commitment ‘contract’, also placing a sign on their garden hose tap to remind them of their pledge. The second group of people who were given a social contract saw a decrease in consumption of 22%. However, the group that was leafleted saw an increase of nearly 10%.
These test results could have a big impact on how healthcare organizations communicate with patients. Up until now, we’ve always thought that education was key to getting patients to make healthier decisions. But what if all those patient pamphlets are doing more harm than good? They could be encouraging the same bad behaviors that healthcare professionals are trying to fix. Just like those water company leaflets did.
There are many theories behind behavioral economics, but not all of them may be helpful in healthcare. By understanding these theories, we can develop a roadmap for greater success in healthcare market researchers.
Those in the healthcare market research industry need to think about behavioral economics when creating and implementing research projects. They can help provide important insights into how people make decisions, which can in turn help market researchers design better research studies and produce more accurate results.
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