The Business of Behavior
Companies increasingly recognize that if societies falter, their business can’t succeed. Accordingly, many enterprises acknowledge that it is a business imperative to get people to change individual behaviors around such issues as driving safely, eating healthier, taking medications regularly, staying out of debt and others.
Through corporate responsibility commitments, sustainability initiatives, philanthropic contributions, and more, companies are changing the way they do business and driving awareness of important social issues. But too many efforts stop there, and much more can be done. What’s often missing is the engagement of stakeholder audiences in changing their behaviors… to move people beyond awareness toward actions that make an impact.
This new frontier is discussed in the latest edition of Ogilvy & Mather’s Red Paper Series – From Cause to Change: The business of behavior. It explores the ways in which companies across a broad range of industries can become agents of behavior change and contribute even more so to the well-being of individuals and society while improving business performance. For companies, this can translate into market expansion opportunities, reduced costs, strengthened brand positioning, and an enhanced reputation and leadership profile.
Leveraging the science of behavior change is at the heart of social marketing, the application of marketing and communications to the promotion of ideas, issues, and practices that support personal and public health and safety, community benefits, and social change. In effect, it’s to spark positive behavior change. Social marketing traditionally has had a rich and successful legacy in the public sector, something that our agency has been acquainted with for nearly three decades. We know how social marketing gets people to buckle up, get screened for colon cancer, purchase flood insurance, and more. These are significant impacts and the results cannot be discounted.
What is OgilvyEngage?
OgilvyEngage is Ogilvy Public Relations’ new global behavioral science practice that helps companies drive socially-beneficial behavior change among consumers, employees, and other stakeholders to improve business performance while contributing to the well-being of individuals and society. We use proven behavior change models, theories, tools, and techniques to help clients assess opportunities; better understand the motivations of their audiences; and design results-oriented messages, strategies, and programs.
This expertise is born out of our global social marketing practice. For nearly 30 years, we have been a global leader in helping clients change minds, shift attitudes, redefine norms, and support sustained individual and community behavior change. We design research-based and theory-informed integrated solutions that combine disciplines such as paid, earned, and owned media; partnership development and coalition building; special events; advertising; and direct marketing to help clients around the world make a difference in healthcare, wellness, safety, education, personal finance, and more.
At the heart of this specialty is our agency’s proprietary Dynamics of Change model, a tool designed to identify the specific change a company should invest in to bring about maximized outcomes for its business, individuals, and society, as well as to define the strategy and processes for implementing a change program.
The Benefit for Business
Global changes to the economy, to our environment, and to our social welfare are mandating new approaches to how we live. Adding behavior change leadership from the private sector to that of government and public interest organizations will create a multi-faceted approach with exponential benefits. For example, companies can:
- Reap meaningful and measurable business performance and return on investment, ranging from market expansion opportunities and reduced costs to strengthened brand positioning and an enhanced reputation and leadership profile.
- Advance and evolve their engagement in public good and expand the impact of many of their corporate responsibility initiatives.
- Strengthen the increasingly important – and necessary – relationship among a thriving business enterprise, the well-being of stakeholders, and social change.
Examples in Action
On April 19, we hosted a panel discussion at Ogilvy Washington – Socially Responsible Behavior Change as a Business Imperative – to share how some companies are already embracing the opportunity to build their business while fostering socially-responsible behavior change. For example :
- Opower works with utilities to help them meet their efficiency goals by getting their customers to use less energy.
- Starbucks promotes composting by providing coffee grounds to consumers to take home for their composts.
- Energizer prompts consumers to change their smoke detector batteries twice a year when they change their clocks for daylight savings time.
- Allstate asks teens to pledge not to text and drive.
- Clorox encourages consumers to regularly disinfect phones and other items in the home that are touched often to reduce the incidence of flu.
These companies are early adopters of what we see as a growing trend and a business imperative. We are absolutely convinced that businesses that engage consumers and other stakeholders in socially-beneficial behavior change stand to enjoy meaningful benefits to their bottom lines. And we believe that the engagement of the private sector is critical to helping individuals and societies across the globe tackle the many complex and difficult problems that we face – issues like obesity, water conservation, disease prevention, and financial literacy – that will only be addressed successfully by the cooperation and involvement of all sectors.
Download the Red Paper
We invite you to join the discussion and we welcome your reactions and responses to our Red Paper. And I invite you to connect with me directly: