Chapter 5. A Summary of the Process

The Applied Behavioral Science team at Walmart and Sam’s Club understands how the mind works and that there is often a gap between mind and action. For example, even customers who are interested in their products may not return to the store in the future. They also know that theory isn’t enough: to put these ideas into practice, they need a step-by-step and repeatable process.

Min Gong, head of Applied Behavioral Science at Walmart and Sam’s Club, refers to their process as “the 4-D’s”:

  • Define the business case and problem.

  • Diagnose the status quo and opportunities for change.

  • Design and test the proposed solution to the problem.

  • Decide on whether to scale up and implement the solution more broadly.

For example, the team was recently asked to help drive in-store trips and membership renewal at Sam’s Club. First, they worked with their business partners to more tightly define the problem and constraints. Together, they found that what was really needed was a marketing strategy that was cost-effective, helped address behavioral biases among customers, and supported membership renewal.

The team studied current engagement and renewal decisions among Sam’s Club members to diagnose gaps between current and desired behaviors, and identified strategies to build habits that led to tangible business impact. They designed 20 different RCTs (randomized control trials, or A/B tests) across six rounds of testing based on this understanding. As Min says ...

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