Customer insight from… the Yellow Pages

The dull thud of a phone book hitting the desk. …Probably not a sound you’ve heard since the 90’s, but the humble yellow book, and it’s smaller, newer, blue cousin can be useful to explain the value of customer insights, especially those gathered in context…

20 years ago when the Thomson Directory went into battle with the ubiquitous Yellow Pages in the UK they wanted a point of difference – and to become the ‘most reached for’ directory over their competitor…

…By visiting people’s homes they saw the Yellow Pages not only next to the phone, but in drawers, under stairs, propping up computer monitors etc. Importantly, they noticed peoples’ behaviour – They stacked smaller books on top of  larger books.

Thomson used these behavioural insights to their advantage, producing a smaller book so it would sit on top, and be the first directory people grabbed.

The purpose, function and content remained unchanged, but a practical human behaviour sparked this significant change in the design and form factor of their product.

I’m not sure there’s a digital equivalent to ‘stacking’ items like this… but can you think of other products or services which have been shaped so fundamentally by behavioural insights?

Thanks Simon in London for the photos

…and to Ofer Deshe who told me the story a few years back.

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