Every day, there’s a new viral sensation, a new hot brand and a new trend to transform the retail industry. TikTok drives millions of views and shares, and Instagram is the new hot bed for budding brands. But why do consumers actually buy certain products or use certain services? What inspires them to take action? Moreover, how can brands better understand these innate beliefs and behaviors to ensure their products and campaigns are successful? According to best-selling author and marketing professor, Jonah Berger, the key is marrying data with deep understanding of human behaviors. Jonah will provide a thought-provoking presentation and dissect what really makes ideas, products and brands catch on, especially in this always-on, digital world.
Jonah has had a fascinating career and has deep experience studying humans and businesses, so we wanted to share some fast facts about his work, what excites him most about the retail industry and the trends he will focus on during his keynote presentation at the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo:
1. Jonah Berger’s purpose is to help businesses understand human behavior.
Jonah Berger is a world-renowned expert on change, influence, word of mouth, natural language processing, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas and behaviors catch on. He got started in his career because he truly wanted to understand why people make certain choices. This curiosity led to him publishing more than 50 articles in top‐tier academic journals, teaching Wharton’s highest rated online course, and having popular accounts of his work appear in places like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. (You may have even seen his face in emails from Section4, the education platform from Scott Galloway. He’s a co-professor on the course about viral growth.)
“The most fun thing about my work is I get to study these questions all the time,” Jonah said. “I get to generate hypotheses and analyze data to give deeper insight into human behavior, and then share that insight with practitioners who want to apply it.”
2. Transformation is the buzzword du-jour. But Jonah believes brands and retailers need to use data to learn how to focus their efforts.
As consumer preferences continue to change, retailers and brands are tasked with transforming their customer experiences to become more transparent, authentic and personalized. It’s all about meeting consumers where they are and exploring new opportunities to take your brand to the next level. To do this successfully, brands and retailers must collect key data points and understand what the data means.
“I think it’s an interesting time to be in retail to think about which channels are most effective, how you can acquire customers, and how you can meet their needs in a variety of different ways,” he explained. “In terms of trends, obviously a big one is thinking about how to leverage digital as well as brick-and-mortar effectively. Also, the importance of text as data. Consumers create a lot of information textually through social media and online posts. How can we leverage that data for insight? How can we better understand our customers and deliver value by understanding what they need?”
3. Want to drive change in retail? It’s not just about the data; it’s about understanding.
If you’re just starting out in your retail career, it’s worth noting that data drives business decisions. But, keep in mind, you also need to be able to understand human behaviors.
“I think the clear combination is both data science and behavioral science,” he said. “You need to understand how to leverage data, but you also need to understand the people. Data by itself is not going to solve everything. You’ve got to understand why people do what they do and marry that with data analysis to achieve your goals.”
4. So, what makes ideas, products and brands catch on?
Jonah’s keynote, “Creating a Contagious Brand: How to Drive Word-of-Mouth and Influence in an Always-On World,” will focus on the conscious and unconscious forces that shape human behaviors, especially how consumers buy. He’ll also outline how to apply six core principles that will drive word-of-mouth and social transmission; and ways to harness this virality to activate long-term retention and loyalty. After Jonah’s keynote presentation, you can find him in the expo hall for a meet-and-greet and book signing, so you can dig into his latest book, The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind.