The first time I came across the word ‘nudging’ was a few years back in a local supermarket. And no, it had nothing to do with the first five image search results you’ll find on Google, depicting cute animal mamas giving their cute offsprings a gentle pad, or a so-called nudge, with their heads. The gentle pad is the original meaning of the word ‘nudge’ – but where it gets interesting is when nudging becomes a tool to make humans behave in a certain manner. Like when supermarkets place guilty pleasures right next to the cashier for the fool inside me to buy stuff I didn’t intend on buying.
Still, nudging has not yet succeeded in being abused for taking over the world or giving endless manipulative powers to politicians. Instead, givin’ a nudge is used to make people make the right decisions. Sounds manipulative, yes – but in a good way.
Supermarkets has been nudging for years – only now there’s a word for the strategic placement of candy and other sweet treats right on the aisle to the check-out. You don’t think about it but that little strategic move secures a higher ROI on candy, simply because it’s placed for you to last minutely decide to grab some chocolate whilst waiting in line.
Today, nudging uses the same sneaky tactics – for the better of the planet. Sweet treats on the check-out aisle has been replaced with fruits and healthy snacks. Smokers are redirected to throw their cigarettes in a neon yellow dumpster strategically placed and colored to tell us, that there is no doubt, that this is where I put my cigarette after smoking it.
So what does the future of nudging bring? We know that companies are already using nudging to make consumers buy products. Not only in local supermarkets, but online as well. Have you ever considered the color of the ‘add to basket’ button, the ‘other customers also looked at bla bla’ and the strategic pop-ups that if you buy two of the sweater you were looking at you get a lipstick for free? Nudging, all of it.
Nudging sure opens up an interesting aspect of marketing and we haven’t even seen half of it yet. So next time you stop by your local supermarket for milk and you DON’T bring home a chocolate bar or other items that weren’t on your shopping list, you’ll notice it.