My friend Ilona recently started her PhD research at London School of Economics. Last week she was sitting in her office when she overheard someone in the next room being congratulated…for winning the Nobel Prize in Economics! It turned out Michael Kremer, one of this year's winners, was visiting LSE that day. The first he heard of it was when the head of LSE's economics department found and congratulated him. An acquaintance had tried to congratulate him via Skype earlier in the day, but he thought it was a scam and rejected the call.
In a simulated RCT, we recruit a sample of consumers and apply the same randomization principle as a real RCT: divide them into different groups and give a different marketing message to each one.
Then we test the behaviour of each group in a simulated shopping test (or in this case, a simulated doctor-patient consultation). The group who most increases purchasing of the test product, or changes their behaviour in the desired way (such as prescribing a particular medicine) is deemed the successful group. The communications message seen by that group is the winner of the test.
Not only can we identify the most effective communications message, but we can determine how much it outperforms the other test messages and the control group.
Other clients who have used this approach include an energy drinks company testing key drivers of consumption, an insurance company measuring the effectiveness of different marketing touchpoints, and a whisky company exploring how to maximise their returns from e-commerce.
Simulated RCTs are not suitable for every type of research, of course. And there's lots to discuss about both RCTs and Simulated RCTs, such as how best to generalise the results to other situations. We designed the Simulated RCT to address these questions as well as possible, for example by measuring not just which stimulus works best, but why it works (using our System 3 analysis method).
If you'd like to take some inspiration from the Nobel Prize winners making an impact against global poverty and hunger, why not try a cost-effective and accurate Simulated RCT on your next research question? We're donating 10% of all our profits from Simulated RCTs in the next year to Evidence Action, a charity that uses RCTs to work out the most effective ways to spend its donors' money around the world to save the most lives.
Simulated RCTs accurately predict the future behaviour of your consumers in response to the marketing strategies you will introduce. Helping your stakeholders make reliable, informed decisions based on actual evidence.
Irrational Agency: new insight into the future from behavioural science