November 7, 2019 /Experience

Behavioural Design

AI and digital tech have given us access to huge amounts of data, enabling us to understand our collective and individual habits better. Devices and platforms quietly listen to how we live, giving insight into our sleep, sustenance and even step count. Changing behaviour is hard, and while gamification can help us visualise goals, it often offers short-term play rather than long-term engagement.  

In retail, loyalty apps and cards have played on using gamification to keep customers motivated, whereas behavioural design goes further than this, looking at how elements in a store can help guide habits. Whether it’s using colour to guide the eye in a certain direction or nudging consumers towards a checkout, these subtle design cues are imperative for a successful store.

Expanding on the popularity of the quantified-self tech movement, behavioural design builds its core principles on the research of neuroscience, social psychology, and behavioural economics to enhance the consumer experience. Looking at how physical habits are affected by the psychological, the challenge is to create new patterns looking at how design interacts with our behaviour.

When creating our concept for Morphe we wanted to create a decompression zone as entering the store. Shopping malls can often be overwhelming, with shoppers hectically manoeuvring between shops. Creating an entrance zone that was not immediately saturated with products allows consumers to adjust to the new setting, even if just for a few moments.

Unapologetic in its engineering of behaviour, developers look to solve challenges related to consumer, organisational and public behaviour. Understanding consumer habits helps design journeys that are gratifying and positive. For example, Disney recognised that segmenting the queues at theme parks help reduce the impact of long wait times. Changing interiors, sensorial environment and even the shape of the line can affect consumer perception of the overall experience.

Ikea also recognised this, creating a pathway that shoppers follow, allowing them to visualise products in their home environments. Consumers are seamlessly directed around the store by design, aimed to showcase as many products as possible in a structured way.

Incorporating a smooth omnichannel strategy is a huge part of establishing long-term loyalty and change within stores, growing brand growth through path-to-purchase. As 70% of consumers shop both online and in brick-and-mortar stores, seamlessly merging the two is imperative.


81% of consumers are also more likely to discover and research products online, but often are more comfortable testing and purchasing in-store. 

Language and interaction can also be game-changing when looking at how to change touchpoints to help the perception of service. Small adjustments like flight attendants memorizing premium fliers’ names help them feel an elevated sense of comfort onboard and approve feelings about the experience. In retail, this use of specific language is mimicked by companies like Charlotte Tilbury who have guidelines on how to address shoppers. While AI technology like Persado is emerging to highlight how language can best communicate and positively influence consumer behaviour.

Human behaviours are constantly evolving and culturally subjective. Understanding consumer choice and actioning that within design can significantly influence experience and sales within stores. Brands who invest in innovation and research into their own consumers are at an advantage; enabling them to implement strategies to help guide consumer behaviour to aid in both sales and enjoyment within the retail sphere.


  • Brands should know their consumer inside out. Gauging behavioural patterns will help inform and define customer journeys improving experience and sales.
  • The design should consider how to help ‘nudge’ consumers towards specific behaviours, including easy payments, fluid touchpoints and facilitate the overall experience within the store.