Rory Sutherland labels himself the Wikiman, absorbing an endless stream of news, blog posts, essays, anecdotes, stories and experiences from countless sources and producing illuminating, unorthodox insights. One of marketing’s most original thinkers and influential speakers, Rory is the Vice
Chairman of Ogilvy Group in London. A champion of behavioural economics and an early adopter of new technologies, he was among the first in the traditional advertising world to see the potential of the Internet and related technologies. Rory is as outspoken as he is creative (and can be very funny, too). In his talk he will discuss the dichotomy between real value and perceived value in today’s brand-saturated world.
A lively and humorous speaker, Rory Sutherland chose to look at the difference between perceived value and real value at the last Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie Forum. His opening gambit put it to the audience that “any model can one day turn out to be dangerous and that man is anything but a profoundly rational being.” He expressed regret that “economics has forgotten the vital contributions that other disciplines such as physics, chemistry, biology and psychology can make, taking its inspiration exclusively from mathematics. This oversight results in a reductive vision of what it is to be human that could be redressed through the use of digital media and behavioural data.”
To illustrate his thesis, Rory Sutherland initially observed that value is, in objective terms, equivalent to a certain buying power. But it’s more than that, too. “The value of the product is intrinsically linked to the status of its owner, which is itself highly relative. From an economic point of view, not to mention a humoristic one, doesn’t the old saying go that a rich man is one who earns more than his sister’s husband? Value therefore depends on context. And that’s where marketing comes into play.”
It is at this point that emotions enter the equation. In a constant state of flux, their significant impact on behaviours provides a quick and efficient gauge. But there are also other factors to consider: “A person is totally rational when they think,” Sutherland argues, “but laziness, for example, or fatigue, constantly influence their perception of the world around them, which means their choices don’t follow a predefined logic.”
What is needed here is an acute contextual observation, and Rory Sutherland to provide one, which he does with the example of the progress bar that appears when you download software. “In itself, it has no use whatsoever, but its merit lies in reassuring the user by showing them that something is happening. The context is that the person at the computer doesn’t have the feeling they’re wasting their time, when they can see before their eyes that a process is underway.”
Another example: “Why are people more willing to buy a shampoo with 50% extra free, rather than the standard bottle, which, at 30% cheaper, comes down to exactly the same thing? The reply is simple: they think they’re making a saving.” That people must be given the choice is a key point. For Rory Sutherland, there’s only one conclusion: “Not having options is unthinkable!”
See which experts and personalities are invited to the Forum.