I really enjoyed listening to Dan Lockton speak about how design influences every day behaviour. I’m particularly interested in the positioning of items, anything from content or a call to action on websites to those in the physical world and how all of this influences our behaviour.
Supermarkets provide us with a great example of how our behaviour can be influenced. They use product placement to promote certain brands or items over others. Also, items placed at eye level are usually more expensive than those that sit above or below and we’re far more likely to reach for those that we can see
It’s of course much easier to influence behaviour rather than change it. In order to successfully influencing behaviour we need to have multiple influencing factors. Carrying on with the supermarket theme, I’ve been thinking about plastic bags. When I go to my local Sainsbury’s, I always try to take my own bags with me. I’m being green and looking out for the environment. But, I’m also looking out for myself. Sainsbury’s have removed their bags from the till/checkout area. They say they are helping their customers: “The bags will still be available but hidden from sight at the tills”. So, if I want a bag(s), I have to ask. What’s more, before my items are scanned through, I’m asked if I’ve brought my own bags. I don’t particularly enjoy having to ask for a bag, or even worse, bags. In order to avoid this slightly unpleasant experience, I bring my own. Better for the environment and better for me. Sadly, a little selfish but true.
At M&S, the experience is quite different. They take a different approach. The bags are right there, visible, in fact I can just reach out for a bag, I don’t have to ask for one. I don’t feel guilty. In fact, it’s somehow OK as I’m paying 5p for it.
I’d be curious to compare the real figures (rather than projections) when it comes to plastic bag usage at Sainsbury’s and M&S. I suspect that Sainsbury’s have been far more successful when it comes to reducing usage of plastic bags.