In the school canteen growing up, the savvy staff behind the counter would always offer me a choice. Steamed green beans, or a medley of square carrots, cauliflower and small bits of sweetcorn.
Deciding what vegetables to pair with my gravy-drowned meal was a big moment for a 9-year-old. The staff may not have been trained in behavioural science, but they were experts.
As adult consumers, citizens or employees, we still don’t like feeling restricted or forced. In ‘The Illusion of Choice’, Richard Shotton describes how we like to exercise our ability to choose wherever possible – in part because this helps us feel more control over our lives.
Harnessing this insight, in 2016 Hubbub launched the world’s first ‘Ballot Bin’. Rather than ask smokers to bin their cigarette butts, they offered them a chance to ‘pick their side’ by voting with their butts for Messi or Ronaldo.
The bins were hugely successful, reducing litter by 46% and have now been rolled out to 5,000 in 42 countries. The most recent being the Barbenheimer special in Southampton.
It’s not just choice that we like; it’s narrow, well-defined choice. Studies find that we make more purchases, and are happier with them, when choice is restricted to fewer options.
This bias is also why the co-launch of Barbie and Oppenheimer at the box office is smashing records. Rather than cannibalising each other, the forced choice is boosting demand.
Film fans are jumping at the chance to (very publicly) express their preferences and identities.
Who knew? The bins.