Pause Points Cut Implusive Snacking

We live in an obesigenic world.

That is one in which the availability of high fat foods, inappropriate portion sizes, sugary drinks, social customs that promote overeating, poor access to low calorie foods, lack of exercise and the relentless promotion of unhealthy food choices means it is far easier to get fat than to stay fit. One in which poor nutrition is actively encouraged as the food industry pours billions of dollars into researching, creating, advertising and marketing foods that encourage obesity.

The results of this relentless propaganda speak for themselves. Currently, more than a billion people worldwide are overweight and over 300 million obese.* In the US alone obesity rose from 13% to 32% between the 1980’s and 2007. Currently 68% of American adults are overweight. Experts warn that this is just the start. Unless individuals take positive steps to safeguard themselves the world’s population will continue to grow bigger and less healthy with every passing year. It is not just those in the richer, developed nations who are at risk. Obesity rates are rising equally rapidly among the growing middle classes in China, India, the Middle East and South America.

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Dr David Lewis conducts snack study under the camera’s gaze. Show airs August on ITV.

Having just finished filming two impulsive eating programmes for ITV, the problems caused by impulse snacking has been very much in my mind.  To give one example. As a nation we get through an estimated 6 billion packets of crisps a year and on average we each consume 150 packets of savoury snacks over a twelve month period. By eating out of a packet or bag you can consume 20 – 30% more than if you were to dish out exactly what you wanted to eat.

What Can We Do To Break the Habit?

If you insert ‘pause points’ you’re less likely to eat mindlessly. A pause point is literally something that makes you stop for a minute – having to take the sweet out of a wrapper, or open a new packet.

One study took this phenomenon to the extreme and dyed every 7th Pringle in the tube bright red – just to make the participants stop and think. People given these tubes ate 48% less Pringles. That’s 250 calories in one sitting.

So if you snack impulsively keep in mind these simple rules.

You’re more likely to overeat if you don’t know when to stop – visual clues and pause points can be helpful reminders.

Large value packs might help your wallet but they won’t help your waist – you’ll end up eating more.

  • Measure out snacks into little portions. Eat from a bowl not from the packet.
  • If you take food to work don’t take the whole packet of biscuits. Take a few and put them in a smaller bag.
  • Chose snacks that are individually wrapped. Just not being able to mindlessly put food in your mouth will give you a pause point and make you think about whether you really need that snack.

 

* Source: WHO; http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/obesity/en/.

 

 

 

Neuromarketing

I am a neuropsychologist who has been called the ‘father of neuromarketing’ due to my pioneering work in this area during the late 1980’s.

Watch the world’s first ever demonstration of what, some twenty-years later, would be called ‘neuromarketing’ which I gave on Tomorrow’s World back in the early 1990′s.

I started out studying medicine but later switched to psychology and obtained my doctorate from the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Sussex. After lecturing there in Clinical Psychology and Psychopathology I left to found my own research laboratory, Mindlab International, which specialises in brain research and neuroscience as applied to consumer behaviour and decision-making.

Dr David Lewis along with Businessman and Illusionist Keelan Leyser travel internationally giving Keynote presentations on their research on Marketing and also on Impulse Buying.

How to be an Engaging Business Speaker in the Present Day!

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… and why Ghosts from the Past Still Haunt Corporate Conferences of Today

A Victorian time traveller attending most present day conferences might be surprised to discover how little had changed. Although computer projectors and PowerPoint have replaced magic lanterns and a good PA systems means speakers’ need no longer project their voices, our 19th century visitor would find much that was reassuringly familiar. Especially in the manner by which their message is communicated to an audience, something a cynic once described as “a process by which information passes from one sheet of paper to another without passing through anyone’s brain.”
For while there are some brilliant and compelling business speakers, from both within and outside companies, capable of simultaneously informing and entertaining their audiences, they are in my three decades of conference experience very much in a minority. The majority, sadly, stay rooted and almost immobile behind a lectern, reading in a monotone from their lengthy notes, and making only fleeting eye-contact with those seated in serried rows before them.
The fact is that the structure of most modern conference presentations seems to owe more to tradition and convenience than an appreciation either of the psychology of learning or rapidly changing audience attitudes and expectations.

A large body of research has shown, for example, that the human span of attention can only be maintained for around 20 minutes and that even this relatively brief time frame is in now in decline. As a generation raised on pop videos and computer games starts to forms an increasing proportion of conference audiences the task of communicating corporate messages is becoming ever more challenging and problematic. For while most employees, if only out of concern for their prospects, will dutifully sit through mind numbing presentations by senior executives with the ability to bore for Britain, their minds are will be far away. They will rapidly transform themselves from highly motivated delegates to what are, , in the memorable phrase of Professor Charles Handy, no more than “empty suits” – physically present but mentally absent. Which means that not ever the most carefully crafted corporate messages, the most earnestly delivered exhortations and the most painstakingly crafted PowerPoint presentations will make any impact on either the audience’s mind set or the corporate bottom line.  In this televisual world before you can grab an audience’s mind you first have to capture their hearts!

A large body of research has shown, for example, that the human span of attention can only be maintained for around 20 minutes and that even this relatively brief time frame is in now in decline. As a generation raised on pop videos and computer games starts to forms an increasing proportion of conference audiences the task of communicating corporate messages is becoming ever more challenging and problematic. For while most employees, if only out of concern for their prospects, will dutifully sit through mind numbing presentations by senior executives with the ability to bore for Britain, their minds are will be far away. They will rapidly transform themselves from highly motivated delegates to what are, , in the memorable phrase of Professor Charles Handy, no more than “empty suits” – physically present but mentally absent. Which means that not ever the most carefully crafted corporate messages, the most earnestly delivered exhortations and the most painstakingly crafted PowerPoint presentations will make any impact on either the audience’s mind set or the corporate bottom line.  In this televisual world before you can grab an audience’s mind you first have to capture their hearts!

Gone are the days when conference organisers could assume that venue in an exotic location were sufficient to get their message across. Today such luxurious trappings are no more than an essential starting point for a successful conference. How you say what you want to say is no less important than what you want to say! Only by paying close attention to the creative context in which messages are delivered will the company’s see a return on their often substantial investment of time and money.

Recent research conducted by myself and my colleague Keelan Leyser has shown that for a conference fully to achieve its purpose, the following six basic requirements must be satisfied.

Creative –

Memorable conferences break new ground by presenting information in original and spell-binding new ways. Just like any successful television programme they must have high production values.

Innovative –

The practical implementation of the creative concept is essential. For everything to work as planned a great deal of prior planning and preparation is essential.

Rapport building –

audiences must be encouraged to feel at one not only with the speakers but with the theme and mood of the conference. Rapport is hard to create and easy to break. It depends on every aspect of the conference from travel arrangements to location choice, and catering services to after conference entertainment.

Communicate the key messages effectively –

this includes not just the presentations themselves but the whole ambience of the conference. Organisers should step back and ask themselves what messages their choice of venue and speakers convey to those attending.

Unique events –

memorable conferences are those which offer agreeable surprises by being in some ways unique and original.

Showmanship –

The term “infotainment” is the somewhat inelegant way of describing that special blend of serious facts and light hearted fun. With time now one of the developed world’s scarcest commodities audiences increasingly demand a significant pay-back for their investment of this precious commodity.

Implement these six strategies efficiently and you’ll have little difficulty in exorcising the ghosts of conferences past!

About Lewis & Leyser

Dr David Lewis, a business psychologist, researcher and Sony award winning broadcaster has been a professional speaker for more than twenty years with clients including IBM, BT, British Airways, Coca-Cola, Glaxo, Merck, SAP, Prudential and AMP. He has also worked in television where he has presented a wide range of documentaries. Dr Keelan Leyser is an award winning economist and marketing professional who is also an accomplished video and IT specialists and illusionists. At the age of 14 he was named as the best young magician in Britain by the Magic Circle. Three years ago they formed Lewis & Leyser to create a unique partnership whose avowed intention is to change the face of conferences for ever. Check out their eye-opening website at www.lewisandleyser.com

The How and Why of the Impulse Buy

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We all like to think of ourselves as careful shoppers. Rational calculating machines who weigh up the costs, compare the quality, objectively compare and evaluate a wide range of options, do the maths and only reach for credit card or cash after long, slow and cautious deliberation.

Of course there are some people who always shop like this and most of us will do so from time to time. The truth if, however that, many of our purchases – even the big ticket items – are spur of the moment buys that we later struggle to justify to our self or to others.

But while such impulse buys, some retailers dub them ‘splurchases’, may not be good for our bank balance they are certainly good for business.

In the UK and USA alone, shoppers currently spend some £24 billion a year on impulse buys. In Britain these account for between 45 and 100 percent of retail turnover while in the United States approximately 62 percent of supermarket sales and 80 percent of luxury good sales are made up of impulse purchases. Surveys have shown that nine out of ten consumers impulse buy at least one item per shopping trip, with more than half admitting to as many as six. This is estimated to amount to a lifetime spend of around £50,000 for each individual.

What sort of things do people impulse buy?

When I went out with a film crew to question shoppers in the up-market town of Kingston-on-Thames, a few miles west of London, answers ranged from items of clothing to smart phone and from a $2,000 bike to a new home. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezb2svQ72qM&feature=em-upload_owner&noredirect=1

The reasons why consumers splash their cash so impulsively has been the subject of extensive studies by researchers like myself by and heated debate among retailers for over sixty years. One of the earliest to investigate the topic was William Applebaum of Stop & Shop Inc. (1)  As early as 1951 he pointed an accusing finger at sales promotion and advertising.

In 1962 Hawkins Stern, an Industrial Economist at the Stanford Research Institute in Southern California, identified four main types of impulse buy.

(1)                   Pure impulse buying: is a novelty or escape purchase which breaks a normal buying pattern.

(2)                   Reminder impulse buying: occurs when a shopper sees an item or recalls an advertisement or other information and remembers that the stock at home is low or exhausted.

(3)                  Suggestion impulse buying: is triggered when a shopper sees a product for the first time and visualises a need for it.

(4)                  Planned impulse buying: takes place when the shopper makes specific purchase decisions on the basis of price specials, coupon offers and so forth.  (2)

Retailers devote much time and money to identifying the most effective ways of pressing each of these four ‘buy buttons’ as customers roam the aisles.

Some twenty years later Dennis Rook, a Research Associate with DDB Needham Worldwide, suggested that impulse buying – which he described as “pervasive…extraordinary and exciting” – occurs: “When a consumer experiences a sudden, often persistent urge to buy something immediately. The impulse to buy is… prone to occur with diminished regard for its consequences” (3)

In the past, perhaps due to the lack of perceived control with which it is associated, many psychologists shared this somewhat negative view of impulse buying. More recent research suggests, however, that shoppers do not, for the most part, consider it a mistake to make spur of the moment purchasing decisions. (4)  Only around one in five express any regret for their impulse buys with four out of ten claiming to feel good about them. (5)

Why do we so often give in to temptation?

While shoppers often blame their lack of willpower, the truth is that their impulse buys owe as much to the sophistication of modern marketing, advertising and retailing strategies as to human weakness.

“Marketing and advertising prey on mindless processing by both encouraging it and exploiting it”, comments Erika Rosenberg of the University of California at San Francisco, who points out that their commercial success depends on “people not thinking very much about whether they really need something before they buy it.”

My studies, which involve measuring the physiological responses of consumers while they are shopping as well as tests conducted in my laboratory, support the notion that impulse driven shopping is controlled by desires, emotions and sometimes anxiety, operating below the level of conscious awareness. Motives which the impulse purchase has been made are only then consciously rationalised and explained away.

You might have supposed that, having spent some twenty years researching impulsive behaviour – much of it related to the impulse buy – I would be immune from temptation.  Not so. Although less impulsive now than in the past I still find it hard to resist some temptations when shopping.

I also hold some kind of a world record for making the most ridiculous impulse purchase ever. I bought a second head with a removable brain!

Exposing me second 'brain'.

 

This is a life cast, electronically animated, replica of myself which proved not just as expensive, but also time consuming and uncomfortable to have made. It involve sitting motionless for what felt like hours with straws stuffed up my nostrils to allow me to breathe while being doused in a blue plastic gunk and then covered with plaster.

David Head Mould 2

Why did I buy it?

I usually tell people it was to create an attention grabbing centre piece for my lectures on the brain.

While its perfectly true that I do use it for this purpose – and certainly when I rip off the top of my own ‘head’ to display my own rubbery ‘brain’ even those slumbering in the back row sit up and take notice – the truth is it was purely an impulse buy.

One of those spur of the moment ‘splurchases’ which just seemed like a good idea at the time!

References

(1) Applebaum, W. (1951) Studying Customer Behaviour in Retail Stores,  Journal of Marketing. Page 172 – 178.

(2) Stern, H. (1962) The Significance of Impulse Buying Today, Journal of Marketing. (April): 59 – 60.

(3) Rook, D. W. (1987) The Buying Impulse, Journal of Consumer Research.14, September: Pages 189–199. Quoted from page 191.

(4) Hausman, A. (2000) A multi-method investigation of consumer motivations in impulse buying behavior. Journal of Consumer Marketing. 17 (5): 403-417.

(5) Rook, D.W. (1987) op. cit.