Understanding the Non-Conscious Decision Making | Ep.156

Welcome back to another informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

Today, Sima is happy to have Elys Roberts, the Founder, and CEO of Beesy, joining her on the show.

In this episode, Elys discusses his career journey, describes conscious versus non-conscious behavior, and talks about the exciting things they are doing with behavioral science at Beesy.

Elys’s background

While with Eli Lilly in the UK, Eli joined a leadership program and did several different jobs. They included district sales management, marketing, market research, sales training, and sales. Then he moved to the US to join a small startup company where he did pharmaceutical market research online.

More recently, he became the CEO of Ipsos Healthcare. He then took on a broader role within Ipsos, managing six divisions in North America, with about 600 people reporting to him. After that, he established Beesy, a behavioral science insights agency.

A masterplan

Starting Beesy was part of Elys’s master plan. In 1997, while at Eli Lilly, he did an inspiring training course on mindset management called The Winning Edge. It was a game-changer for him. It forced him to get his act together and taught him to be purposeful when setting goals. After that, he wanted to start a company, but he had no experience. So he left the UK and went to the US to join an early-stage startup to expose himself to entrepreneurialism. From that time on, every role he took was to help him build a business.

Looking at risk from a behavioral science perspective

Some people find risk-taking and decision-making a lot tougher than others do. Much of it has to do with how people perceive it. For Elys, taking a risk made a lot of sense because he looked at it from a behavioral science perspective. He knew that he would either succeed or learn a lot by failing.

A regret aversion perspective 

Elys also looked at risk from a regret aversion perspective. So he considered whether he would regret doing what he did as an old man or whether he would regret not having done it. Starting a business was an easy decision because he knew he would regret not doing it.

About Beesy

Beesy is a behavioral-based insights agency, so they are in the business of understanding and impacting decision-making. They mainly help out many major pharma-biotech companies and consumer packaged goods companies.

Conscious versus non-conscious behavior

80-90% of all decision-making is reflexive, non-conscious, and effortless. That is known as System One or autopilot, and it is always on. To make a conscious decision that overrides the autopilot, the pilot brain needs to be proactively switched on. It takes effort and cognitive energy, so most humans do not like to do that.

An effective marketing campaign

Beesy has to understand and know how to impact people’s behavior to execute an effective marketing campaign. So they tell their clients that when trying to persuade people, they can get an incremental benefit by tapping into the other side of the brain and nudging their customers appropriately towards the desired behavior.

Behavioral science

Behavioral science is serious and meaningful science. Beesy has some smart, top-notch behavioral scientists who analyze customer behavior. They do a lot of primary market research to understand what is going on beneath the surface with their respondents and learn what drives their behavior.

Beesy’s approaches

Beesy works with three broad approaches:

  1. They do behavioral audits based on prior research and external empirical research in the public domain.
  2. They do qualitative research.
  3. They do quantitative research.

Everything they do has a foundation in behavioral science.

Factors that drive people’s behavior 

Behavioral science allows us to understand why people behave the way they do. The factors outside of people’s attitudes that impact and drive their behavior include their habits, biases, beliefs, sense of identity, and the context in which they make decisions.

Elys’s role

When on projects, Elys’s role is to ensure that the rigorous science gets pulled through to practical guidance and recommendations to help their clients make stronger business decisions.


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