Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

APA: helping speed up my career ladder climb!

         During my ‘gap yaaah’ I thoroughly enjoyed working at the Waterstones bookshop in my local area. Now, after graduating with a Philosophy (major) degree, I have resigned myself to the fact that, after 3 years of extremely hard work, that is yet again where I will most likely end up. However, after having taken this course and studied Applied Behaviour Analysis, hopefully I will be able to double my sales figures and be right on track for immediate promotion! Bookshop manager here I come!
          APA can be used in many ways in order to both increase sales to customers as well as develop staff sales effectiveness skills. Firstly, the notion of positive reinforcement is extremely important. Loyalty card incentive schemes are a fantastic business strategy due to the fact that they positively reinforce customer buying behaviour, by giving them money off future purchases (Rowley, 1999). Demoulin and Zidda (2008) suggest people hold many loyalty cards, and found they are in fact more loyal to these stores and less sensitive to prices.
         Furthermore, Waterstones, as well as a loyalty card, have  introduced a stamp card- in which you get a stamp every time you spend £10 and, upon reaching 10 stamps, you receive a free £10 gift card. This is a fantastic incentive as the result is tangible, and the customer is overtly aware of how far they have to go to gain the reward as opposed to it being encoded digitally- encouraging them to spend more each time to reach over the £10 threshold.
       I would give away these stamp cards with a couple of stamps already filled in, as a reward for newly signing up, as Dreze & Nunes (2006)  found that giving customers a stamp card containing some points already filled in (a 10-stamp card with 2 stamps filled in compared to an 8-stamp card), almost doubled the amount of people who came back to finish their loyalty cards. They claimed this is possibly because they did not have to start something from scratch, and that the closer people come to a goal the more effort they put in to achieving it. Thus, people’s buying behaviour would be positively reinforced in our store, with the loyalty and stamp card schemes.
                Equally, employee incentive programs can be used to increase overall employee performance, such as boosting morale and motivating high daily employee performance.  Thus, I would hold ‘employee of the month’ awards recognising individual’s hard work, which would have high trophy value, simultaneously positively reinforcing their behaviour and encouraging others to strive for that award.
                A further method of positive reinforcement is through sales schemes, such as “buy one get one free” or “3 for the price of 2”. This is because their buying behaviour is positively reinforced as they are receiving something for free, or at a reduced cost. Salvi (2013) found that Discounting and BOGOF strategies were effective in increasing the buying behaviours: inducing visit to store, purchasing products and purchase acceleration.  Equally, these sales schemes can act as punishers if people do not purchase anything, they miss out on these sales, and later the price goes back up. Thus, if they decide later they do want to buy the book, they will have to pay more for it.
                In terms of negative reinforcement- the removal of an aversive stimulus- if the staff are extremely friendly and helpful, then the customer will feel guilty if they do not buy anything. Thus, they will most likely purchase a book in order to avoid the negative feelings stemming from the guilt. Dillard & Pfau, (2002maintain that the feelings associated with guilt make it well suited to exploitation, as people will attempt to avoid this negative emotion.
              Thus, with the aid of my newfound Applied Behavioural Analysis knowledge, hopefully sales will increase, as well as staff morale and effectiveness- thus rendering my University degree not entirely pointless, and helping me to move up the ranks of Waterstones as quickly as possible! 
Katie Haseler-Young

Rowley, J. (2000). Loyalty kiosks: making loyalty cards work. British Food Journal102(5/6), 390-398.
Demoulin, N., & Zidda, P. (2008). On the impact of loyalty cards on store loyalty: Does the customers’ satisfaction with the reward scheme matter?. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services15(5), 386-398.
Nunes, J. C., and Drèze, X. (2006) "The endowed progress effect: How artificial advancement increases effort." Journal of Consumer Research 32.4: 504-512.
Salvi, P. (2013) "Effectiveness of Sales Promotional Tools: A Study on Discount, Price off and Buy One Get One Free Offers in Branded Apparel Retail Industry in Gujarat." Web. 05 Mar. 2014. <>.
Dillard, J. P., Pfau, M. (2002). The Persuasion Handbook. Developments in Theory and Practice. SAGE Publications: London.

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