After a week of group editing an op-ed piece about social marketing and obesity where a major point of discussion was positioning social marketing 'against' behavioral economics, it was refreshing this morning to see this announcement from CVS Caremark [from the release].
Company Enlists Experts in Behavioral Economics and Social Marketing from Leading Universities to Study How Consumers are Influenced by Financial Incentives, Education and Communication.
CVS Caremark is working with academic leaders from Carnegie Mellon University, Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania's Medical School and Wharton School of Business in the Behavior Change Research Partnership. These research partners will team with CVS Caremark to develop insights into consumer actions around health challenges by studying the issues through the lens of behavioral economics and social marketing.
For example, patient non-adherence to essential chronic medications is widely recognized as a leading barrier to improving public health and a cause of increasing medical costs. The Partnership will study reasons why people who go to the doctor often choose to not fill their initial prescriptions or prematurely stop taking those medications during treatment and recovery.
Among regular readers, the topic areas will sound familiar. And for you newer ones, see:
There is an argument among some people that behavioral economics and social marketing are somehow competitors in the behavior change space - at least it is presumed to exist in the minds of policy-makers. From my POV, and as my students hear, behavioral economics is a set of principles perfectly suited to allow us to understand the Price 'P' and how to better integrate it into our programs (and stop relying on just using persuasive communications). A few key principles are:
Loss Aversion - people are more averse to losing things than they are inclined to gaining things.
Status Quo Bias - one of the best predictors of our future behavior is our current behavior. This is because inertia is so powerful.
The Dual Self - people have competing preferences, with different preferences dictating different actions at different times.
Attention Constraints – people get distracted. Simply paying attention to one’s goals is often half the battle in reaching them.
Resource Slack – In planning for the future, people realistically assumed that money will be tight, but they expect free time to magically materialize.