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It’s time to ditch the stereotypes

As our audiences' behaviours change, we need to evolve our interventions.

Unilever made headlines during the 2016 Cannes Lions by launching a commitment to stamping out female stereotypes in ads across all of its brands. That pledge came after the discovery that progressive campaigns play better with the target audience. No surprises there.

Setting aside the reasons for doing it (in the words of Unilever's chief marketing officer Keith Weed: “This is not a moral issue, it's an economic issue.”) the action is to be applauded. But it is not enough. Unilever is focusing on female stereotypes because its products are primarily targeted at women. Who of course all act in the same way. Just as millennials do. Or those living in Scotland. Or mums and dads. Or doctors. It's not enough to change the creative, we need to change the way we define our audiences.

Focusing on the who and what (age, gender, income, product preferences, health habits) is useful information. But looking behind that information to the 'why' is where the value lies. We need to define behaviours and understand what drives them if we really want to target people effectively. 

Why behavioural segmentation?

Putting communications in front of audiences based purely on demographics doesn't mean your message will get through. We are not rational beings and no decision is made in isolation. Our decisions are influenced by our personality, beliefs, experiences and expectations (internal influences), along with the social and cultural environment in which we live and work (external influences). This is why you think differently from your colleague, your neighbour and your partner. Behavioural segmentation - sorting your audiences based on commonalities in what drives behaviour - gives a far more detailed picture. It is more than getting your brand or call to action heard; tapping into these drivers offers a way to change behaviour for good.

How do we do it?

To change behaviour, you need to not just describe it, but to understand it. At Hamell, we have developed a framework for understanding and explaining behaviour based on integrated evidence from across the behavioural sciences. We use this framework to guide our research.

"Changing behaviours is not a one-off hit. As our audiences' behaviours change, we need to adjust our segmentation models and... evolve our interventions"

observe, we listen, we talk. We look at individuals and groups. We analyse both verbal and non-verbal cues, actions and emotions, to understand why people prescribe, recommend, seek help, interpret symptoms, buy or stay on treatments as they do. Why people really do what they do, rather than why they think they do it. We drill down to truly get to the core drivers of behaviour - uncovering what makes your audience the type of people they are.

by applying a rigorous combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques and our proprietary statistical models, we sort your audience according to their behavioural types. This enables us to figure out which factors are most important across the target audiences and how these interact with brand- and situation-specific factors.

Being relevant. Being timely. 

Changing behaviours is not a one-off hit. As our audiences' behaviours change, we need to adjust our segmentation models, and evolve our messages, campaigns and interventions. Changing behaviours takes planning. In an age where individuals not only ignore communications but actively opt out of them, only brands that thoroughly understand their audiences will succeed.

Hamell can target the core drivers of any of your stakeholder groups with truly customised solutions: a new message with language that resonates; a new way of framing that message; a more relevant way to deliver it; and specific behaviour change interventions designed to tap directly into core behavioural drivers.

unique approach means we have the power to Change Behaviour for Good.

To find out more about Hamell's unique approach call Fiona Hammond on 020 7978 5206 or email her at 

24th February 2017


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020 7978 5206

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