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The Choice Factory

25 behavioural biases that influence what we buy

By Richard Shotton
Cover of The Choice Factory (Paperback) by Richard Shotton Cover of The Choice Factory (Mobile Phone) Cover of The Choice Factory (Tablet)

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About the Author

Richard Shotton

Richard is Deputy Head of Evidence at Manning Gottlieb OMD, the most awarded media agency in the history of the IPA Effectiveness awards.

He started his career as a media planner 17 years ago, working on accounts such as Coke, 118 118 and comparethemarket.com, before moving into research.

Richard is interested in how findings from behavioural science can be applied to advertising. He ... Read more on Richard Shotton

Contents Listing

Preface
Introduction

The 25 Biases
1. The Fundamental Attribution Error
2, Social Proof
3. Negative Social Proof
4. Distinctiveness
5. Habit
6. The Pain of Payment
7. The Danger of Claimed Data
8. Mood
9. Price Relativity
10. Primacy Effect
11. Expectancy Theory
12. Confirmation Bias
13. Overconfidence
14. Wishful Seeing
15. Media Context
16. The Curse of Knowledge
17. Goodhart's Law
18. The Pratfall Effect
19. Winner's Curse
20. The Power of the Group
21. Veblen goods
22. The Replicability Crisis
23. Variability
24. Cocktail Party Effect
25. Scarcity

Ethics
Conclusion

References
Further reading

Index
Preface
Introduction

The 25 Biases
1. The Fundamental Attribution Error
2, Social Proof
3. Negative Social Proof
4. Distinctiveness
5. Habit
6. The Pain of Payment
7. The Danger of Claimed Data
8. Mood
9. Price Relativity
10. Primacy Effect
11. Expectancy Theory
12. Confirmation Bias
13. Overconfidence
14. Wishful Seeing
15. Media Context
16. The Curse of Knowledge
17. Goodhar ...

Jacket Text

Before you can influence decisions, you need to understand what drives them. In The Choice Factory, Richard Shotton sets out to help you learn.

By observing a typical day of decision-making, from trivial food choices to significant work-place moves, he investigates how our behaviour is shaped by psychological shortcuts. With a clear focus on the marketing potential of knowing what makes us tick, Shotton has drawn on evidence from academia, real-life ad campaigns and his own original research.

The Choice Factory is written in an entertaining and highly-accessible format, with 25 short chapters, each addressing a cognitive bias and outlining simple ways to apply it to your own marketing challenges. Supporting his discussion, Shotton adds insights from new interviews with some of the smartest thinkers in advertising, including Rory Sutherland, Lucy Jameson and Mark Earls.

From priming to the pratfall effect, charm pricing to the curse of knowledge, the science of behavioural economics has never been easier to apply to marketing.

The Choice Factory is the new advertising essential.

Professional Reviews

This book is a Haynes Manual for understanding consumer behaviour. You should buy a copy - and then buy another copy to give to one of the 97% of people in marketing who are too young to remember what a bloody Haynes Manual is. Rory Sutherland, columnist for The Spectator and Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy One

Most books in this area are academic and dry as dust. If you want to know how research and sociology can impact on real life in the real world, Richard's book will show you - using simple words and examples that real people can understand. Dave Trott - creative director, author of Predatory Thinking and founder of three creative agencies

In a cacophony of overstatement, Richard Shotton possesses a melodious and balanced voice. In this short but powerful tome you can learn about how marketing actually does influence consumers. Or, for the more prosaic among us, how to get people to re-use towels, buy wine when German Oompah music is playing and select a broadband supplier by mentioning Charing Cross Station. The book also mentions me (all too briefly) which I also find enticing. Mark Ritson, columnist for Marketing Week and Professor at Melbourne business school

Actionable, memorable and powerful... Shotton has taken the jewels of behavioral economics and made them practical. Seth Godin, author of ‘All Marketers are Liars’

Comprehensive, compelling and immensely practical, the Choice Factory brings the building blocks of behaviour change together in one place. Richard Huntington, Chairman & Chief Strategy Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi

A top-class guide for those who want to put BE to work, rather than just illuminate their journey to work. Mark Earls, author of 'Herd'

A guide to your own mind, a roadmap of your blind spots, a toolkit for better advertising. The Choice Factory employs robust behavioral science in an approachable manner to demonstrate how you make and influence decisions.  Synthesizing a vast body of research, live experiments and numerous examples, he shows that there is a bias for every occasion and how to use them as tools to craft better communications.  Faris Yakob, author of Paid Attention

Richard delivers a wealth of cases proving the efficacy of working with, rather than against, the grain of human nature. This is catnip for the industry. Phil Barden, author of 'Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy

Richard Shotton's application of behavioural economics is bang on the button. This book is timely, insightful, fascinating and entertaining. Dominic Mills, ex-editor of Campaign

If you're a marketer, understanding what really makes people tick - as opposed to what they might tell you - is vital. This book takes us on an elegant, witty and digestible tour of the 25 main principles of behavioural science. Richard Shotton has read widely so that you don t have to, but he gives full credit to his many sources should you wish to pursue any of the topics further. This is a delightful and indispensable read for anyone in marketing, particularly those early in their careers. Tess Alps, Chair of Thinkbox, the UK's marketing body for commercial broadcasters

"At last someone has written a commonsense, practical guide to using behavioural science to sell things. It is backed by lots of research and working examples drawn from the author's own experience and his encyclopedic knowledge of the industry. In short, this is a classic advertising textbook in the making.” Steve Harrison, British copywriter, creative director and author

This beautifully written book brings to life the counter-intuitive ways in which we make our everyday decisions. Jules Goddard, Fellow, London Business School

Richard is genuinely interested in human behaviour and how it drives our decisions; this book is easy to read and not dry based in the subject-matter. It is a must-read for modern marketers. IAA Education Matters Newsletter - Q2 2018

I would therefore recommend this book to the whole marketing profession as it will enable us all to stand back and consider how we influence consumers to buy products or participate in market research. Well worth the read! Alan Wilson, University of Strathclyde, UK

‘… the easiest to read and most actionable.’ Marketing Effectiveness Reading List – Part 2

"Perhaps one of the best aspects of working in marketing and advertising is being given the chance to take on interesting challenges, to overcome tricky obstacles and to solve, at times strange but fascinating, puzzles. For those working in marketing and advertising with a desire to be more effective in addressing these challenges, obstacles and puzzles, Richard Shotton's entertaining and practical book is the ideal guide." Robert Thackerey, AdMap

"The Choice Factory" is the most popular new book for marketers so far this year. Well read, well discussed and well liked from everyone, it casts an eye on the the history of how customers come to given decisions, and the psychological background behind them doing so. " Imperica

The Choice Factory is a fun easy read packed with sound research that marketers can apply to their businesses immediately. Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

If you’re in the business of influencing people then Richard’s book is a must read. It provides a welter of practical advice on how behavioural science can be harnessed by businesses . Dan Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing


Media Coverage

Ogilvy Change

An interview with Richard Shotton and Rory Sutherland

During the podcast, Richard Shotton, remarked "The book is called Choice Factory. The overall theme is how to apply social psychology and ...

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Marketing Week

According to the peak-end rule, events are remembered for their most remarkable and final moments, so to stand out brands should concentrate on improving these aspects of the customer ...

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Mediatel

The author of a new book examining the behavioural biases that influence what we buy tells Ellen Hammett how advertisers can make their campaigns more effective.

... There are lessons the ...

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M+Ad! - New Zealand

“This book is a Haynes Manual for understanding consumer behaviour. You should buy a copy – and then buy another copy to give to one of the 97% of people in marketing who are too young to ...

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Roger Dooley Blog

Would you trust a doctor who didn’t understand physiology? An engineer with no knowledge of physics? Given how obvious those answers seem, it’s surprising that so many companies trust marketers ...

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Branding Strategy Insider

By recognizing the limitations of advertising brands can focus their advertising resources where they work best. This means that more brands will be able to afford a constant presence among key ...

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WARC

Richard Shotton’s new book The Choice Factory is about the decisions we make every day, and the biases that complicate them. Richard sat down with WARC’s Sam Peña-Taylor to talk about the origin ...

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Campaign

The danger of confirmation bias is just one of the topics in Richard Shotton's new book, The Choice Factory, as he explains in this excerpt for Campaign.
Features an excerpt from the ...

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Alugha.com

Marketing triage: why brands need to categorise consumers into three groups
Dominique Jean Larrey, chief surgeon in Napoleon’s Army, developed the concept of triage on nineteenth century French ...

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Branding Strategy Insider

The agencies that focus most on the unchanging man will win the insight war.

Contributed by Branding Strategy Insider by: Richard Shotton, the author of The Choice Factory, a new book on how to ...

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WARC

Richard Shotton, author of “The Choice Factory” - which has won praise from Dave Trott, Rory Sutherland and Mark Ritson - will explore how findings from behavioural science can improve ...

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Quartz at work

An article adapted from the book The Choice Factory:

For those prepared to embrace a modicum of career risk then the best chance of growing your brand is to flaunt your flaws. The principal-agent ...

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Marketing.ie

The Marketing Institute has announced speakers from Lego, Wieden+Kennedy, Brainlabs and Foresight Factory as part of the DMX Dublin 2018 line-up...

Richard Shotton is deputy head of evidence at ...

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Proud Money

Many of us think we're too smart to fall for advertisers' tricks. We won't buy something because of a catchy jingle or famous spokesperson. But if you think those obvious tactics are the only things ...

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Marketing Week

Contrary to common belief, consumers are more likely to take action if the incentive is of uncertain value, offering a way to make loyalty schemes both cheaper and more effective.

... Not only are ...

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Rouser

Curiously, the book undersells itself in promising an exploration of 25 biases that influence what we buy. That’s not quite true: the book is far better than that. Instead of a codex of biases, ...

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Branding Strategy Insider

What Can Brands Learn From The Social Nature Of Humor?

The main point is that the wit of an ad is not just a creative issue but also one of context and media placement. The perception of humor can ...

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Business Money

If you have ever wondered what it is that influences our decisions to buy stuff, then it helps it you can get a handle on what techniques marketers employ to engage with their potential customers. ...

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Mediatel

Possibly bringing both conscious and unconscious biases to this week's column, Dominic Mills reviews and digests the Choice Factory - Richard Shotton's behavioural science bestseller

... It’s a ...

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B-C-ING-U.COM

... Essential reading

... Richard Shotton’s excellent paperback is a prime example of observation and investigation in the field of comprehending what makes each of us tick. Its contents are ...

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Mark Pollard, Strategy CEO, Mighty Jungle, New York

Talking about biases, flaws and mirror strengths, the principal-agent problem, and the decline in rhyme.
Listen to the podcast: https://www.dropbox.com/s/65h8k3n6kvo96cn/audio_only.m4a?dl=0

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Media Marketing

It’s better to base marketing decisions on experiments of Nobel Laureates than on the opinion of the most eloquent person in the board room.

How do we make choices – any choices, all choices? ...

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The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing

The smartest brands have recognised that exhibiting a flaw makes them more appealing, and they have use the pratfall effect to stand-out from their competitors.

Consider, the DDB VW campaign. From ...

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Independent.ie

The Marketing Institute has announced speakers from Lego, Wieden + Kennedy, Brainlabs and Foresight Factory for the industry's biggest annual conference.... DMX Dublin 2018 will involve over 30 ...

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The Creative Persuader

Highly recommended...

Very occasionally ... a book will come along that I can happily suggest in these instances. Because it truly covers a lot of ground in an accessible way. Luke Sullivan’s ...

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Branding Strategy Insider

A taste of the article by Richard Shotton:

It seems obvious that many of our spending decisions are influenced by the past. Consider how you pick a restaurant. You think about your previous ...

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Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com

If you're in the persuasion game and you've ever wanted to better understand your consumers' purchase behaviour, this is the interview for you! I caught up with Richard Shotton, deputy head of ...

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The Independent

Author Richard Shotton reveals how you can become a savvier shopper

Shotton says that shoppers rely on a series of short-cuts to make decisions and it’s these short-cuts that are prone to biases ...

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Shopper Marketing

(Text below has been translated)

Neuromarketing shows a similar development as shopper marketing. Both disciplines are relatively young, but all two have full growth potential. And moreover, ...

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Talk Radio Europe

Listen to the interview with Richard and Hannah Murray when they discuss the book in detail and discuss some of the 25 behavioural biases that influence the way we buy. The discussion around social ...

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Jazz FM

Richard Shotton's new book The Choice Factory is intended to be a handbook to marketeers and ad people ... If you're not one of those people it gives valuable insight into the mind games we consumers ...

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Canvas8

Richard Shotton, author of The Choice Factory, argues that tech alone isn’t changing people’s core behaviours. Canvas8 speaks to Shotton about the behavioural biases that can be applied to help ...

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WARC

Shotton’s book covers 25 scientifically demonstrated biases that can inform better advertising. Some have been used intuitively for years, like the power of social proof to persuade people, as ...

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Tutor2u

A number of new books make it into my personal selection of enrichment and extension reading for A level economists as we head into the Spring.... Behavioural economics fans will enjoy Richard ...

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The Marketing Society

The best way to ensure brands strive for distinctiveness is to popularise the principal-agent problem. If following the herd becomes equated with putting one’s career ahead of the brand’s needs, ...

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The IPA Podcast

"Great, new book."

"I've noticed a few people reading it on public transport so ...obviously it's selling. Brilliant!"

"I absolutely recommend it for anyone who is yet to get hold of a copy ... ...

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Ezonomics

Many of the commercials you encounter every day will be using psychological tactics

You might think you’re immune to advertising – that your decisions are entirely conscious and rational. But ...

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Mumbrella

Richard Shotton explores why marketers are so fad-obsessed, using the unlikely metaphor of the penalty shoot out.

Marketers need to apply the lessons of penalty taking to brands. If we do we’ll ...

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Lumen Research

Richard Shotton’s The Choice Factory is the best-selling book on advertising in the UK at the moment. Shotton helps you to understand what really drives and influences decisions, building on ...

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Marketing Week

Behavioural insights show targeting the average consumer can backfire among key groups, even it succeeds among the majority, which is an argument for in-depth research on individual ...

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Independent.ie

Marketers who openly admit their brands' flaws and follow a line of self-deprecation can be business successes, British adman and 'Choice Factory' author Richard Shotton claims.

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Campaign

MullenLowe London's former head of strategy says Richard Shotton's book The Choice Factory is a must-read for anyone in marketing and advertising - not just planners.

... The Choice Factory by ...

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Print Power

There’s no evidence that print has lost its impact on a per-impression basis.

Q. Has print as a medium lost its impact?
RS: There’s no evidence that print has lost its impact on a ...

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Marketing Week

.... Think about Listerine, which publicised its bitter taste with the strapline ‘The taste you hate, twice a day’ ....

The campaign recognised that exhibiting a weakness didn’t make them ...

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Raconteur

Human reaction to numbers is riddled with quirks. Richard Shotton’s new book The Choice Factory examines the ability of businesses to harness these biases to influence consumers. For example, ...

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Branding in Asia

Shotton's interesting book follows a single person through their day and analyzes 25 of their decisions.

Read the full interview with Bobby McGill here: ...

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International Journal of Market Research

... Well worth the read!!

... Many of the books on behavioural science and behavioural economics are slightly stuffy and can often be a difficult read, but this is the exact opposite. It is also ...

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Branding Strategy Insider

In his latest article, Richard Shotton looks at delivering distinctiveness and looks at resolving the principal-agent problem.

He asks:
Knowing that your ads need to be distinctive is helpful, ...

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Print Power

Cognitive biases affect professionals as well as consumers. One of the most relevant biases that sometimes afflicts media planners is the false consensus effect.

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Mumbrella

As more and more brands bombard their customers with a monotonous list of reasons why they’re wonderful, Richard Shotton details why we need to embrace the negative. ... This article has been ...

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Marketing Week

Marketing Week reviews the latest books for marketers.

... In his book, which is an overview of how behavioural science experiments can be applied to marketing and advertising, he runs through the ...

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Biz Community

What do you think is the greatest ad campaign ever? Coca-Cola? Apple? Levi's? All great choices, but I'd argue that the most effective ad of all time was by De Beers. And part of its success was ...

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Mumbrella

The Choice Factory author Richard Shotton argues that the methodology behind brand purpose is flawed, and is being perpetrated by adlanders who want to feel better about their jobs.

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Branding Strategy Insider

Brands must recognize that much of advertising’s impact comes from implicit communication. There is a role, even in the era of procurement, for bold brand statements. The occasional extravagance ...

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Brewin Dolphin magazine

In a new book called The Choice Factory... the author Richard Shotton highlights the phenomenal power of social proof to change consumer behaviour. For example, what is the best way to get hotel ...

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Mumbrella

Most gourmets would agree that the best food available to man is the salt and vinegar chip. The combination of crunch, vinegary bite and salty tang is unbeatable. But the chip aficionados among you ...

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Mediatel

Richard argued that goalkeepers have an implicit bias towards diving because that is the norm and what people expect a goalkeeper to do. If you dive and don’t make a save it’s seen as bad luck - ...

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Marketing Effectiveness

‘… the easiest to read and most actionable.’

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Mumbrella

Opinion piece by author of The Choice Factory Richard Shotton. "...It’s not just that these marketing predictions misguide us. There’s also an opportunity cost. Our fixation with the future ...

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WARC

"Perhaps one of the best aspects of working in marketing and advertising is being given the chance to take on interesting challenges, to overcome tricky obstacles and to solve, at times strange but ...

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Mumbrella

The key point about the cobra effect is that when you set a naïve target, it encourages behaviour that superficially meets that target, rather than the underlying goal.

The targets set on most ...

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Mediatel

In his hugely popular book The Choice Factory, Richard Shotton explains how behavioural science can be applied to advertising and how a few simple tricks can help marketers improve the effectiveness ...

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Imperica

"There are lots of amazing books about popular psychology, but few of them apply it to advertising. I felt that there was a real gap for a practical, simple book that applied behavioural science to ...

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Marketing Week

Marketers, like all humans, believe everyone is as interested in their work as they are, leading to ads that fall at the first hurdle by taking it for granted that they will be noticed.

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The Marketing Society: The Library

I think it’s well worth a read.

… One of my favourite chapters is about the power of personalisation, which is often ascribed to the fact that our subconscious deals with most of our sensory ...

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Blog 42

Shotton is considered one of the brightest minds in the UK advertising industry. As Deputy Head of Evidence at the media agency Manning Gottlieb OMD, he works with some of the world’s leading ...

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Campaign Brief

… Says Shotton: "Over the last few years I've conducted dozens of experiments and worked with many brands and shown time and time again that the application of behavioural science improves ...

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Tarsh Partnership

The book provides invaluable knowledge for you to act on. There’s something to learn and apply in every chapter. I particularly enjoyed the irrefutable proof that advertising has to be distinctive, ...

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Marketing Directo

Making use of behavioral science, which helps to understand how people make their decisions, can help companies solve this problem. This is what Richard Shotton expresses in his latest book for ...

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Brand News

Have you ever noticed the posters in the doctor's office that tell how many people do not bother to show up for their appointments? Or seen the charity appeal on Wikipedia that explains how most ...

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BBC Radio 4

The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton featured on BBC Radio 4 Programme 'Nudge Nudge'.

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Muse

Brands must seek inspiration from beyond their category. If they do so, they will see one of the common factors of the few brands who have created a genuine step-change in their category is that they ...

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Campaign

Your main task this afternoon is to interview the last two candidates for the position of manager on your team. At the close of the second interview you realise both candidates have the same relevant ...

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Arab Ad

Richard Shotton’s book, The Choice Factory, investigates how behavioural science can be applied to advertising. In the following interview, Shotton elaborates further on this topic and the research ...

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Dennikn (Slovakian publication)

To read the full article here (assuming your Slovakian is up to scratch!)

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ReasonWhy

The book "The Choice Factory" by Richard Shotton explores and explains the trends behind consumer behavior.

Throughout 25 chapters he explains how humans really make decisions

Read the full ...

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Instituto Mexicano de Economia del Comportamiento

Read the full article here.

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Digital Grads

It’s safe to say that the marketing landscape has changed significantly in recent times. As a marketer, it’s very important to make sure you stay on top of trends, which becomes increasingly ...

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Level Marketing

Read the full article here.

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Strategy

Manning Gottlieb OMD's Richard Shotton uses behavioural psychology to show that the perfect brand strategy is to be imperfect.

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Marketing Week

Brand purpose is literally up for debate when nay- and yay-sayers Richard Shotton (author, Marketing Week columnist and head of behavioural science at Manning Gottlieb OMD).

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Marklives.com

In this extract from his new book, The Choice Factory: 25 Behavioural Biases That Influence What We Buy, Richard Shotton delves into the world of bias, an aspect of human nature that shapes our ...

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AdFormatie

It seems obvious that many of our spending decisions are in uenced by the past. Consider how you pick a restaurant. You think about your previous visits: the taste of the food, the charm of the ...

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Strategy

Brands must seek inspiration from beyond their category. If they do so they will see one of the common factors of the few brands who have created a genuine step-change in their category is that they ...

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PAZARLAMA Turkiye

"You must understand what triggers them in order to influence decisions," Shotton said, examining the behavior of people in the buying process and examining how these behaviors are coded ...

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The Holmes Report

The Echo Chamber talks to Richard Shotton and discusses whether PR needs to get a better grip on behavioural science.

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Marketing Week

Businesses often default to trying to reshape objective reality. This tends to be eye-wateringly expensive and prohibitively time-consuming.

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Canadian Marketing Association

Richard Shotton, author of The Choice Factory, recently visited DDB Vancouver to talk to their staff about how behavioural science can be applied to advertising. Below he covers some of the main ...

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Media Post

In this week’s episode of “Marketing Today,” I speak with Richard Shotton, author of the book, “The Choice Factory: 25 Behavioural Biases That Influence What We Buy,” which was published ...

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The Drum

The Choice Factory author told The Drum that purpose is but a single tool available to marketers. He said: “If you only have one tool, you force all your problems to fit that tool. To a man with a ...

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Research World

So, where many look forward Choice Factory looks back. Where the majority say go big, Richard Shotton says think small. That's why Choice Factory is the zag to many zigging books available to ...

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The Holmes Report

Richard Shotton, head of behavioural science at Manning Gottlieb OMD, published The Choice Factory early in 2017, outlining 25 common biases that affect consumers’ responsiveness to brand messages ...

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Anuncios

Shotton, who has answered the questions by email, was the guest speaker at the recently held professional conference of the Association of Magazines of Spain (ARI), where he gave a lecture on ...

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Left B.R.A.I.N Blog

On november 8 2018, Richard Shotton spoke at B.R.A.I.N.Creatives HQ in Amsterdam. The event was sold out, with guests coming from all over the Netherlands and even traveling from abroad. Shotton’s ...

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MoneyWeek

If you make a living from selling, or you want to understand more about how other people are selling stuff to you, then this is a good, quick-to-read primer on 25 behavioural biases that influence ...

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Lurocomnect

Building a brand is tough – what’s worse is that destroying a brand is easy. Standing on the top of the roof and shouting (ok, nationwide TV ads on a major sporting event) does not build a brand ...

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Belfast Telegraph

His book, The Choice Factory, was one of the top selling marketing books on Amazon last year and his 18 year career spans working for Coke, Lexus and comparethemarket.com.

The event has been ...

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Turtl

The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton – released February 2018
Richard Shotton sets out to help the reader understand what drives decisions and in turn, how they can then become the influencer ...

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Fupping

The Choice Factory is most aptly described as not just a book to read, it’s one that yearns to be used. By combining a plethora of anecdotes and creative examples, Shotton brings the topic of ...

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PM Magazine

If you were at the PM Forum conference in September you’d have heard Richard Shotton explain how professional services firms can apply the findings of behavioural science to their marketing ... But ...

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South African Journal of Marketing Research

Excerpt from The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton.

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South African Journal of Marketing Research

If you follow marketing or market research, you will probably have at least heard of behavioural science. At the heart of this field is the premise that people don’t think deeply about every ...

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Business Book Awards

'The Choice Factory' has won the Sales and Marketing category in the 2019 Business Book Awards.

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Marketing IE

Richard Shotton’s recent book The Choice Factory is arguably the most practical guide to behavioural economics, with an overview of how findings from behavioural science can be applied to marketing ...

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PPR Consulting

4. The Choice Factory | Richard Shotton | @rshotton

The aim of PR is to reach an audience through earned media to influence them: usually to buy your stuff. But if you don’t understand how your ...

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More About Advertising

In fact, the case for behavioural economics in advertising goes further. As Richard Shotton argues in his brilliant book The Choice Factory, it improves quality too. If brands want sustainable ...

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