Applied behavioural economics

Genesis Analytics has the first specialist team of behavioural economists in Southern Africa.

Behavioural economics studies how contextual factors affect human decisions. As specialists in human behaviour and decision-making, we help businesses grow and become more profitable by effecting large-scale customer behaviour change using behavioural economics.

Read More
Expertise Areas

Behavioural analysis

Decision mapping

We analyse and break down the targeted behaviour into a list of component decisions, a process which results in a customer decision map. In doing so, we are able to specify the full list of levers available to us to stimulate behaviour change, as well as all the possible barriers and benefits or motivators for a specific behaviour.

At times the process of creating a Customer Decision Map requires primary research in the form of focus groups, in-depth interviews, or the like. At other times the component decisions are well known and require only light secondary research or direct behavioural observation.

Behavioural analysis and segmentation

Through the course of analysing customer behaviour in order to build Customer Decision Maps, discrete customer segments or groups either emerge intuitively, or are identified through data processes. It is important that each of these segments can be isolated because, although behavioural economics lays claim to universal explanatory power, segments have different nudge sensitivity, which must be borne in mind in the design of nudges. Also, different segments often engage with the various touchpoints of a company in different ways. This is borne in mind when crafting and prioritising communication strategies.

Behavioural research and insights

The modern understanding of behavioural economics has a strong impact on how any research and insights process should be run. For example, we know that group-think, confirmation bias and more have an immense impact on focus groups and traditional approaches to surveying customers.

Any process that seeks to understand customers through primary research should be well aware of the various behavioural pitfalls. Designing research approaches in consultation with behavioural economists will likely yield more robust and trustworthy insights.

Behavioural change

Nudge design

The core role of the Applied Behavioural Economics team is to have a deep understanding of the discipline and a firm grasp of how the various tenets of behavioural economics can be used to change human behaviour.


We refer to this process as designing the nudges, or setting up the choice architecture. That is, finding cutting edge, practical (and often highly cost-effective) ways of changing behaviour through behavioural science.

Loyalty and incentive design

While the role of incentives are important for long-term behaviour change, they are slightly different to what we see as pure behavioural economics. Despite this, the many important lessons that behavioural economics provides in this area are only recently beginning to be widely understood.


The team leverages important concepts such as Loss Aversion (the fact that humans feel loss twice as strongly as an equal gain) to assist clients in designing incentives and loyalty programmes that meaningfully affect behaviour.

Prototyping

Even specialists in human behaviour understand that it is difficult, if not impossible, to predict behaviour in advance. Humans are so complex, and contextual factors so varied, that it becomes essential to field test any important behavioural change.

Field testing and piloting

In conducting these champion-challenger tests, we narrow the pilot to a sub-sample of the population. This allows the team to learn which hypotheses work, which do not, and, ultimately, how to improve the impact of the new approach.

Channel and campaign optimisation

We optimise channel environments – from intermediaries to call centres and digital campaigns – using tests and pilots to realise customer behavioural change. Depending on the requirements of our clients, we also roll out the test results to larger operational environments, ensuring the realisation of the full benefit of the intervention.

We aim to deliver a 200% return within a few months of our involvement, which has been easily achieved within a range of different contexts and industries.  For example, our work has resulted in improvements to an upsell campaign of 27%, a retention campaign of 155%, and a customer migration campaign of more than 500%.

Behavioural economics capacity building

After demonstrating the effectiveness and impact of behavioural economics, clients often ask our team to assist in building internal capability and training.

Internal capacity building takes between two and six months. Typically it includes:Creating a functional unit-wide conceptual understanding of behavioural economics; upskilling the internal intellectual custodians; creating a successful delivery precedent together with the newly minted intellectual custodians; and constructing behavioural economics training materials and toolsets for future internal use.

We conduct one- and two-day training sessions in behavioural economics with management and executives. Tailored to the needs of the client, these sessions give participants a fundamental understanding of key behavioural tenets and a good grasp of how to apply them in order to achieve their business objectives. A ‘next steps’ process is also undertaken during the session, allowing the client to take the process further internally.

Projects

Improving retention and retirement decision-making

Project name:
Increasing the preservation of benefit outgo _ Extension of work with forms

Service:
Applied behavioural economics

Sector:
Financial Services

Area of Expertise:
Behavioural change
Prototyping

Client:
Global insurance provider

Date:
2015 - ongoing

Country:
South Africa


A large global insurer commissioned the Applied Behavioural Economics team to redesign its client-facing documents, resulting in better customer decision-making and large increases in retention rates.

 Through the course of the engagement, the Genesis team adapted and tested various policy cancellation and disinvestment documents to incorporate key behavioural nudges.

In a rigorous pilot it was shown that the new client-facing documents increased client retention by 24%, resulting in material benefit to the customers (better financial wellness) as well as our client (increased average policy/investment terms).

Building internal behavioural team at large European bank

Project name:
Assessing the ability of BE to move the dial in the branch network of an Eastern European bank _ Building value through behavioural economics Phase II

Service:
Applied behavioural economics

Sector:
Financial Services

Area of Expertise:
Behavioural economics capacity building

Client:
Large European retail bank

Date:
2015 - 2017

Country:
Croatia


Genesis was commissioned to build a fully functional internal behavioural economics capability at a large European retail bank. 

The first phase was an assessment. In the second phase, over the course of six months, the Genesis team upskilled internal staff members, facilitated executive training, and piloted the approach in the marketing & communications, branch, and contact-centre teams. 

Overall, the work delivered on the ambition of building an internal team. Further, the pilots demonstrated multiple successes, building internal buy-in, including a 76% increase in financial product sales through the contact centre, a 42% increase in primary account sales in branches, and more than doubling online product sales.

Nudging customers to use more cards and less cash

Project name:
Nudging Customers to Swipe their Mastercards More Frequently

Service:
Applied behavioural economics

Sector:
Financial Services

Area of Expertise:
Behavioural analysis

Client:
International payments processing corporation

Date:
2016

Country:
South Africa


The Applied Behavioural Economics team assisted an international merchant bank in building a rigorous, research-supported, behavioural change framework for increasing bank card use as a payment instrument among South African consumers. 

The project team surveyed a representative sample of consumers using a metaphor elicitation technique (a surveying method that’s grounded in the principles of cognitive neuroscience). 

This method was instrumental in uncovering the psychosocial barriers to bank card use that the targeted segments are confronted with in instances where POS devices are an available option. 

This work was done to support the client’s financial inclusion-related objectives.

Nudging customers into branches to increase sales

Project name:
Nudging branch customers

Service:
Applied behavioural economics

Sector:
Financial Services

Area of Expertise:
Behavioural change

Client:
South African financial services provider

Date:
2015 - 2016

Country:
South Africa


A large South African retail financial services provider retained Genesis Analytics to assist with meeting its branch foot traffic and sales objectives by using behavioural insights.

The team set about designing and producing behaviourally enhanced store-front and in-branch marketing material with a view to establishing and maintaining a simple and consistent ‘conversation’ between the branch and the customer. The conversation escalated in detail, from an initial introduction to the products on offer at the branch, to a deeper conversation about the details of each product.

The intervention resulted in a 16% increase in foot-fall and a 9% increase in sales in less than two months.

Nudging South Africans to save for their retirement

Project name:
Improving rates of customer retention at a South African insurer _ Voluntary withdrawals

Service:
Applied behavioural economics

Sector:
Financial Services

Area of Expertise:
Behavioural change
Prototyping

Client:
South African financial services provider

Date:
2015 - 2016

Country:
South Africa


Genesis Analytics worked with a global insurance provider’s outbound call centre to encourage more South Africans to save adequately for retirement by avoiding early withdrawals.

By imbedding behavioural economics concepts into these conversations, the client saw a 140% increase in the value of retirement benefits conserved over the course of a six-week pilot period.

The team was then retained to roll out these learnings across the contact centre, resulting in a 155% increase in the value of retirement benefits conserved. 

Funds retained increased from R250-million annually to R600-million, realising considerable value for the client and delivering a 19-times return on investment.

Helping customers avoid too much debt, profitably

Project name:
Optimising the debt management solution using behavioural economics

Service:
Applied behavioural economics

Sector:
Financial Services

Area of Expertise:
Behavioural change

Client:
South African financial services provider

Date:
2017

Country:
South Africa


A long-term client approached the Applied Behavioural Economics team at Genesis-Analytics to help promote uptake of its debt-management proposition, resulting in a 14-fold improvement in sales.

Through a rigorous data process the client determined that much of its customer base was in considerable debt, but failed to understand its situation and take appropriate action.

Using key insights from behavioural science, such as the intention-action gap, the team segmented the base and worked across multiple communication channels to land a behaviourally informed message to targeted customers. This involved leveraging behavioural insights in SMSes, emails, and conversations in a contact centre.

As measured against a control group, customers who were interested in the proposition (leads) increased by 361%, while the sales conversion rate increased by 216%. Together these results, and others, resulted in 14 times more sales.

New way to manage difficult conversations with clients

Project name:
Advice conversation blueprin

Service:
Applied behavioural economics

Sector:
Financial Services

Area of Expertise:
Behavioural analysis

Client:
South African financial services provider

Date:
2017

Country:
South Africa


The Applied Behavioural Economics team was asked to assist a client in managing difficult conversations. As a result of a new business rule, financial advisers/intermediaries were being forced into challenging discussions with their customers. 

The team used behavioural and experimental economics to test how best these conversations could be handled.

Through a rigorous testing process, the team determined how advisers and intermediaries could be trained to handle these challenging situations. Further, behavioural principles were used to successfully influence the way customers perceived these discussions.

Following the positive results of the test, an executive decision was taken by the client to go ahead with the implementation of the proposed strategy.

Leveraging behavioural insights to step-change sales

Project name:
Behavioural economics capability in analytics

Service:
Applied behavioural economics

Sector:
Financial Services

Area of Expertise:
Behavioural change
Prototyping

Client:
Large South African bank

Date:
2016

Country:
South Africa


Genesis Analytics showcased the value in using behavioural economics with insights from data science to increase short-term insurance sales. The outcome was an increase in sales of between 89% and 100%.

Contact-centre scripting and messaging were redesigned to tailor conversations to each customer based on internal customer-level data. These communications aimed to decrease information overload by leveraging behavioural techniques such as herding, priming, framing and exclusivity.

Following a successful pilot, the Genesis Analytics team was retained to leverage behavioural insights across all contact centre teams.

Improving the onboarding of customers

Project name:
Optimising the onboarding of customers to increase digital channel usage, reduce missed payments, and achieving up- and cross-sell objectives

Service:
Applied behavioural economics

Sector:
Communications and Media

Area of Expertise:
Behavioural change
Prototyping

Client:
Large home entertainment provider

Date:
2014

Country:
South Africa


During any onboarding phase of the customer journey, certain norms and expectations are established. Genesis was retained by a multimedia conglomerate to assist in changing customer behaviour using the principles of behavioural economics. 

The project team piloted a new approach to onboarding, which led to a 47% reduction in missed payments and a 25% increase in upselling of certain products, as well as a more than doubling of self-service use.

Protecting sex workers in Mpumalanga

Project name:
Protecting sex workers in Mpumalanga

Service:
Prevention
Applied behavioural economics

Sector:
Health

Area of Expertise:
Prevention

Client:
The US Centers for Disease Control

Date:
2011 – 2016

Country:
South Africa


For this project we conducted extensive research in the Gert Sibande District in Mpumalanga, which showed that many young women engaged in commercial sex work and transactional sex. This is as a result of very high unemployment levels among women in the area. It is also probably the reason why HIV infection levels in this area are among the highest in the country.

The team designed a peer-education programme and clinical services to reach sex workers in the district. We focused on taverns, since these seemed to be where sex workers found their clients. The sex workers also went on a course to explain to them how to reduce their risk of contracting HIV.

The programme is considered a best-practice example of working with key and vulnerable populations. A magazine produced for the sex workers as part of the programme has proven so popular that it is now distributed by the Department of Health throughout the country.

We showed that using innovation, combined with a respectful and engaged approach to the target audience, could result in a ground-breaking programme in this very difficult area.

Meet the Team

Areas of Service Expertise

  • Behavioural analysis
  • Behavioural change
  • Prototyping
  • Behavioural economics capacity building

Related Sectors

Projects

Project

Improving retention and retirement decision-making

A large global insurer commissioned the Applied Behavioural Economics team to redesign its client-facing documents, resulting in better customer decision-making and large increases in retention rates.

View Project
Project

Building internal behavioural team at large European bank

Genesis was commissioned to build a fully functional internal behavioural economics capability in a large European bank.

View Project

Search

Search for more Genesis projects

Leading the team

Neil Lightfoot

Partner (Applied Behavioural Economics)

Neil Lightfoot
Partner (Applied Behavioural Economics)
Read More

Brendan Meehan

Manager

Brendan Meehan
Manager
Read More

​Sarah Magni

Manager

​Sarah Magni
Manager
Read More