Nudge theory is powerful and top of mind with many of today’s government, academic and business leaders. It’s earned its place there.
But, if one is to pick up on Phil Kotler’s comment that behavioral economics is a fancy new formalization of marketing, certainly it could be said that nudging is even more so directly aligned to marketing.
Heck, that’s what marketers do… they nudge people to buy. So is this all semantics that reflect who is doing the influencing by using core principles of psychology? In some ways yes. It is.
When companies influence people to buy, it is called marketing. That is very well established. What’s new is that now governments are effectively in the marketing business. They used to only use coercion (ie. taxes, laws, administration and information dissemination (propaganda)).
So you can indeed think of all the buzz around nudging as governments getting active in their marketing. As with all marketing, it can promo good and bad. Let’s ensure it is for good.