Hello and welcome to the TCC Weekly – the Friday bulletin for people who know their Blur Brexit from their Oasis Brexit.
We’ve got a jam-packed Weekly for you today, as we congratulate the father of nudge on a Nobel prize award, hear the public verdict on Theresa May’s action-packed conference speech, and find out what Labour’s membership looks like compared to its opponents’. Our Values Lab covers post-Brexit politics, the single image that shows the political divisiveness of gun ownership in America, and tries to answer that age-old question – who buys expensive sausages?
And we reconvene at the TCC artisan hot dog stand that is Charlie’s Attic, which this week features your chance to play The Uber Game, and Vladimir Putin’s new duvet (courtesy of Silvio Berlusconi).
In a big moment for behaviour change, Richard Thaler, the ‘father of nudge theory’, was awarded the Nobel economics prize this week. Thaler pioneered the concept of behavioural economics, and was instrumental on this side of the pond in setting up the government’s Behavioural Insights Team – aka the Nudge Unit – in 2010.
The BIT’s Chief Executive David Halpern took the opportunity to congratulate Richard, and re-state the worth of a nudge, in this article. In it he recalls the challenge and scepticism that the Unit faced at the time of its inception, but reminds us of some of its key achievements, including increased tax returns, reductions in unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, and the workplace pension.
What both David in his article and Richard through his work remind us is that our behaviour is governed by thousands of decisions we make every day, and that small tweaks to policy based on behavioural research can have a profound impact on how we make those tiny but important choices.
With the dust still settling on Theresa May’s eventful conference speech, BMG Research spoke to the public last week to find out what they thought of the P45, the cough, the British Dream and the rest.
Elements of their two focus groups might give the PM some cause for comfort, with most expressing empathy with her being struck down with that tickly throat (although some were less sympathetic), and on balance praising her handling of the P45 stunt. Her housing and energy policy announcements were also well received.
However, when it came to the substance of the speech and her reputation, the feedback looks bleaker. Aside from the fact no one described her as a ‘strong’ or ‘dependable’ leader, the British Dream seemed to fall flat, and her policy announcements, while well received in part, reminded some participants more of Labour policies.
Focus groups, of course, do not give you hard evidence of the views of the wider population. However, as we are always keen to stress to those we work with, they are great for digging deeper and adding meaning to the raw numbers that wider scale quantitative research offers.
YouGov research published this week suggests that, rather than being a nation of savers or splurgers, Brits are most likely to opt for the middle ground when it comes to what we spend on our shopping. More often than not, we go for the Goldilocks option of a mid-priced purchase, with the only exceptions being mattresses and pork sausages. So who is splashing out and who is looking after the pennies? We donned our new Versace goggles and headed to the Values Lab to find out.
% who ‘strongly agree that…’ or are ‘very similar to…’
I regularly pay extra for better quality food products
People who buy whatever brand is cheapest when they shop
The results tell us that Prospectors are at least twice as likely as the other two Values groups to pay more to get better quality grub, perhaps in tune with their desire for status and symbols of success. Settlers, on the other hand, are the most likely to go for the cheapest option – unsurprising for a group that see themselves as no-nonsense, and tend more to shun flashy options.
That latter point may make interesting reading for the people behind EasyJet, whose messaging for their new venture, EasyFoodstore, may well chime with Settlers – ‘No expensive brands, just food honestly priced’ and a ‘campaign against rip-off food pricing’.
Also this week:
Another TCC favourite Rob Ford tweets the fascinating CMI seminar from John Curtice on ‘Has Brexit reshaped British politics?’ – as we suggested in the runup to the election, it seems social values displaced the old dominance of economic values.