The Week: Best of the blogs - Where less is more

There is a widespread belief that advertising makes people want more. This may indeed be true. But an equally important (and perhaps even more lucrative) use of advertising is to make people happy with less.

This year, I have been mostly reading about behavioural economics.

I find the subject endlessly fascinating. Partly because it offers up endless counter-intuitive insights into human behaviour of the kind that research companies should generate, but never do. The other reason is a more self-interested one: I suspect it is the new behavioural economics models that will form the model for the most successful agencies in the next ten years.

Why? Partly because this subject provides a robust intellectual link between understanding human nature and knowing how to make money, which is the only proper area of study for anyone in any kind of marketing (remember when we used to sell things?). Second, because, unlike all models prevalent in marketing, it isn't designed to justify any one particular media solution. Third, it offers a practical alternative to the "messaging model" of advertising, which everyone good in this business admits is a heap of old crap.

In fact, behavioural economics offers the only model I see capable of displacing the current lazy consensus around "how advertising works". As such, it is vitally important since, as scientific historians know, the only way to kill off an entrenched model is by replacing it with a new one.

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