How Walmart Uses Behavioral Science with Om Marwah

How Walmart Uses Behavioral Science with Om Marwah

Om Marwah

Our guest today is Om Marwah, the first person to hold the position of Global Head of Behavioral Science at Walmart and Sam’s Club. Om’s group applies research in psychology to customer shopping, business strategy, e-commerce, and more, focusing not just on Walmart’s one billion shoppers but also the company’s 2.4 million associates.
Walmart has a behavior science team to get inside the heads of 1 billion shoppers. #neuromarketing Click To Tweet
The founder of the Behavioral Science and Marketing Summit, Om also works as an instructor at UCLA and teaches students how to take ideas from the academic world and apply them in business. In this episode, he shares his insight on building a great customer experience, as well as tips for fostering long-term engagement. Listen in so you can start applying his advice today.

If you enjoy the show, please drop by iTunes and leave a review while you are feeling the love! Reviews help others discover this podcast and I greatly appreciate them!

Listen in:

On Today’s Episode We’ll Learn:

  • How to foster long-term engagement from customers.
  • Techniques for mapping out customer experience.
  • Tips for starting customer relationships off right.
  • What a cognitive script is and why it’s so important.
  • Advice for building customer appreciation.
  • How to understand what your highest value customers look like.
  • Ways to create a great customer experience.
Walmart relies much more on testing than use of #neuromarketing tools like EEG. Click To Tweet

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Full Episode Transcript:

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Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast with Roger Dooley, author, speaker and educator on neuromarketing and the psychology of persuasion. Every week, we talk with thought leaders that will help you improve your influence with factual evidence and concrete research. Introducing your host, Roger Dooley.

Roger Dooley:    Welcome to the Brainfluence podcast. I’m Roger Dooley. This week’s guest is Om Marwah. Om is Global Head of Behavior Science at Walmart and Sam’s Club, the first person to have this position. His group focuses, not just on Walmart’s one billion shoppers, but also the company’s 2.4 million associates. They apply research and psychology to customers, shopping, business strategy, human resources, stores, e-commerce, disruptive technologies, and more.

On is the founder of the Behavioral Science and Marketing Summit, an amazing conference, and also is the founder of Take Her Back, the nonprofit, which partners with The Rescue Foundation to save young girls from sex trafficking in India. And if that’s not enough, here’s another role that will resonate with all of you who like my writing. He’s an instructor at UCLA who teaches students how to take ideas from the academic world and apply them in business. And if I’ve done my math correctly, I believe that Om is still under 30. So, Om, welcome to the show.

Om Marwah:       Thanks a lot, Roger.

Roger Dooley:    You are still under 30, right? Because I noticed that a couple of years ago you won the Under 30 Award. But I think you cleared that hurdle by quite a few years.

Om Marwah:       Yeah, I’m presently still under 30, although I feel like I’m gonna start losing my hair soon if I keep working the hours that I’m working. But, yeah I’m definitely under 30.

Roger Dooley:    Great. Well, this is really cool. And you know, we’ve been connected for a while and we keep saying, “We’ve gotta have a conversation.” And so, it’s exciting that we are finally here having it in public, so to speak. We’ve got a lot to talk about. But I guess a good starting point would be, what brought us together today, and that’s your upcoming Behavioral Science and Marketing Summit in San Francisco. That’s a unique event in several ways. The roster of speakers is really impressive. Just about all are behavior science specialists at companies that I had no idea were even interested in behavior science, at least not directly. How did you come to put this conference together?

Om Marwah:       Sure, so this conference is a really interesting event that essentially, as the head of behavioral science at a large organization, when I look at the opportunities for events that enable me to learn from my peers or learn behavioral science in a really applied manner, there was just a fundamental gap that I’d noticed. No event was truly designed for me. There were behavioral science conferences for academia, there were conferences that were interested in policy applications, there were insights conferences that were really just focused on leveraging behavioral insights and new tools like eye tracking. But there wasn’t really an event that took behavioral science and showed a set of speakers that could share how they were applying it within organizations and across organizations from a diversity of problems, across marketing, product development, employee engagement.

And so, because of this gap that we noticed existed, or I noticed existed, it was apparent to me that an event that would be something I would love to attend, and would be something that I could really learn a lot from to apply to my job working in industry, would be something that I would really value. And the real spur that inspired the creation of the event was actually, I had gone to India with the objective of trying to build an orphanage a few years ago, and I had flown to India, landed, and gone straight into an orphanage and started talking to children and saying, “What’s affecting you? How did you get here? What are the challenges you’re facing?”

And I went from orphanage to orphanage asking these questions. I went to the train tracks, where a lot of kids were coming from rural areas that have been displaced, or landing up and then turning into almost, these lost boys that are smoking and drinking at a young age, and meeting a really unfortunate fate. I spoke with them and was just trying to understand, what are the challenges you’re facing? And my last individuals that I met with, I met with at a McDonald’s near the airport before I flew out. And they are an organization called Rescue Foundation that raids brothels to rescue minors that are in sex slavery.

And so, they have a covert intelligence team that goes into brothels posing as customers, identifies a victim, and then essentially, runs a rescue operation once they’ve identified that victim. And the average age of the girls they’re rescuing is 12 years old. Some of the girls they rescued are very young. And so, this conference really was, I came back from India after meeting them and said, “How can we make some money to support Rescue Foundation?” And we decided to through this event, because it was an event we had wanted to create but never really had the real reason to pull it together.

And so, I then founded Take Her Back, which partners with the Rescue Foundation and is expanding their operations, as well as building our own operations to have a covert team that identifies sex trafficked minors and then rescue them. And this event, all the proceeds from the event actually go to Take Her Back, to take this work forward.

Roger Dooley:    Right. Well, that’s really a great intro to the event, because I know some of the best conferences I’ve attended, Om, have been ones that are put together by somebody who says, “These are people that I want to hear from.” And I’d contrast that with so many conferences where everybody who has an exhibit gets a speaking slot, or all the supporters get speaking slots. So, I end up with a lot of commercials. So, I’m thinking this one’s going to be really good. And I want to get on with some of what our listeners are expecting to learn from you. But, we get to the end, we’ll also have a discount code to anybody who’s still interested in the conference can use to save a few bucks on attending it. And that conference is coming up in just a couple of weeks. What’s the date on that?

Om Marwah:       November 14, in San Francisco at the University Club.

Roger Dooley:    Right. So, the timeline is short, if you want to attend. So, okay, let’s change gears a little. You’ve been in your current role at Walmart for five years now. How do you fit into the bigger organization, which obviously, is a big organization?

Om Marwah:       Sure. So, we are working across a variety of divisions in the company, so that’s from our stores’ business through our e-commerce business, to our human resources organization. And we are essentially, serving the business in a few major ways. One is through consulting. So, the team will come in and say, “Hey, this is a KPI that we’re really interested in.” And for example, maybe the credit card team will come in and say, “Hey, we want to drive greater acquisition.” Or Sam’s Club may come in and say, “Hey, we want to drive higher first-year member retention.”

And we’ll then, start consulting with them to basically, say, based on behavioral science, these are some insights that we believe are either explaining the behavior of your customers or can be used to create a better experience or a better program that would drive customers to be more interested in engaging. And then we essentially, very quickly start running experiments or tests through the lean startup approach. So the lean startup approach is basically this concept of build, measure, learn. And build the lowest fidelity prototype that’s necessary to get the highest degree of learning or the most, or enough learning for you to see if the approach that you’re taking makes sense.

And so, we start running a lot of these tests to quickly iterate an understanding how what we’re finding is actually affecting the KPI that we’re measuring. And so, we will run a very, very high volume of tests, hundreds of tests a year, actually using the lean startup approach and consulting with teams, as well as doing incubation. So, that’s another core value add that we bring to the business, or core function that we provide, is incubation. So, Walmart is such a massive business that a single behavioral insight could lead to a need to build a digital product, could need to build an entire campaign or program, and can really help set at a strategic level, rather than at a defining the content for a campaign level, something that the business should invest in.

And so, we will then, as the behavioral science team, incubate that concept, where we will, through the lean startup approach, as I described, run a series of tests to on the fly, build a low-fidelity MVP or a, ultimately, and then eventually, graduate into a higher fidelity MVP, or minimum viable product, for what we are proposing to the business. And once we’ve found product market fit, we then will graduate that program back into the executive who we’re partnering with’s organization. And they will move that program to chain, or across the site, in order to achieve scalability of the program.

And then, lastly, the other way that we really serve the business is through executive advising. So, executives may come to us with kind of, big hairy problems that are hard to necessarily, answer without having a scientific approach to figuring them out. So, how do we make customers happier, is maybe, an example. Or, how do we make the organization more creative, is another example. And we will then basically, understand, okay, what is the science of happiness, and what creates delightful, magical experiences? And then how do we bring that, maybe through a literature review into a framework, and how do we turn that framework into a set of recommendations or ideally, a strategy and a program, and then how do we quickly validate that strategy or program for that executive?

So, again, executive advisory, incubation, and consulting, and that’s again, across our stores’ business, from in-store marketing to Omni channel product development, to associate engagement, to e-commerce, which could be digital product development, online marketing, site experience, to again, our human resources organization, which could be organizational creativity, as I mentioned, associate happiness, associate well-being, associate engagement. So, those are at a high level, the way that we kind of, integrate into and across the Walmart business.

Roger Dooley:    So, most of your clients, so to speak, are coming to you. I know sometimes when you’re in a staff position in a really big organization, the line folks don’t always welcome assistance from headquarters. But, you’re saying that in many or most cases, folks are coming to you with problems that they need help with?

Om Marwah:       Be relevant actually, to behavioral science, so we have solved problems that at the earlier stages in my career, I would have never even considered candidates for applied behavioral science. Things like, how do you design board meeting decks? You know, that’s not something I was thinking about when I was thinking about getting into this field in applied space.

Roger Dooley:    Why don’t you expand on that? That’s interesting. How do you design decks for board meetings?

Om Marwah:       It’s interesting. The human brain learns through storytelling. Stories really cause convergence of the different brain centers, or ways of thinking that we have. And so, storytelling is a big part of it. How do you maintain attention? That can be through contrast. If you look at, there was an interesting paper done on a huge body of talks. And about 40% of the time clapping occurred, it occurred when a contrast was shown between what is and what could be. And so, building in a lot of natural contrast between what is and what could be, to creating anchors.

Roger Dooley:    Nancy Duarte was on the show it while back, and she talked about that, how some of the great, great speeches in history really used contrast over and over again.

Om Marwah:       Exactly. So, we’ll draw on someone like Duarte, who’s an expert in the field, and then we’ll bring in literature that’s not even really connected to perhaps, presenting. There was some research that showed self-reflective thought increases neuroplasticity, or self-reflected language increases neuroplasticity. And so, we can take a literature finding like that and say, “Okay, well, when we’re designing for how we’re communicating, should we be doing so in a way that increases reflective thought on the past and on your strengths and on your skill sets to improve how someone thinks they can challenge, take on challenges in the future?”

And then even things from advertising, like the three-second rule of glance media, you should be completely able to tell what’s happening inside of an advertisement in the first, within three seconds of looking at it. And so we said, “Okay, well, slides that are shown at board meetings should be the same way.” And today, they’re really big and have a lot of data on them. So we said, “Build the slide piece by piece,” which from a cognitive load perspective as a marketer makes complete sense. But if you look at a McKinsey presentation, chances are it doesn’t follow that rule.

Roger Dooley:    No, I just got back from a conference where there were a bunch of really smart people presenting. But wow, so many of them had these slides that were so full of text or very detailed charts that were hard to decipher even if you stared at them for a while. And it didn’t really support what they were saying all that well.

Om Marwah:       Yeah, absolutely. It’s pretty uncanny when you see behavioral scientists with slides that have just absolutely incurring cognitive overload.

Roger Dooley:    So, I want to get to some marketing stuff. But I’m curious internally, have you worked on some stuff with human resources or whatever that function is called at Walmart, either with change management or can you talk about that at all?

Om Marwah:       Sure. So, we’ve done some interesting work partnering with them. One of the projects that we focused on was on idea generation and idea capture, understanding what drives creativity, giving people diverse problems. The biggest predictor of the great ideas, just a number of ideas, Coke comes up with, Coke Japan comes up with a new product, I think every two or three weeks. They came up with a product called Water Salad, which looks really interesting. And so, that’s because you never know what idea will be a great idea. So, you just need to come up with a lot of ideas.

And even, how do you foster creativity through the design of a workplace? What are the ways in which people are interacting with people they wouldn’t traditionally interact with, because weak tie interaction, which is someone that you don’t necessarily have as a strong tie that you know well and you see every day, weak ties tend to have access to information that you don’t, as well as networks that you don’t and maybe think differently. And so, creativity is often actually spurred when weak ties interact, versus strong ties.

So, how do you even design a building such that weak ties interacting more, or fostering even evolutionary psychology, like human beings are designed in such a way that they love caves and they love campfires. Campfires, being opportunities to socialize, given we are social beings, and caves being opportunities to create a safe environment, where someone can be alone and feel a degree of kind of, personal safety and security and be able to really focus on their work. So, how do you design for caves and campfires? So, there is a diversity of kind of, problems that we’ve looked at. But, creativity is one that really fascinates us.

Roger Dooley:    Right. So, do you buy into the higher ceiling theory?

Om Marwah:       What is that?

Roger Dooley:    There is one study that showed that people came up with more creative ideas using one of these standard psychological tests for creative problem-solving, when the ceiling of the space they were in was two feet higher. And it seems almost too magical, and seems like one of those results that maybe, ends up in the hard-to-reproduce category. But, that’s one finding. And then, I think another interesting creativity finding was showing people a light bulb or an image of a light bulb also increased their problem-solving ability. Because of the tie to Edison and invention, and so on.

Om Marwah:       Oh, wow. No, I hadn’t heard of those studies, but that’s interesting.

Roger Dooley:    Oh, well, hey, something for the next time. You work on that. I’ve actually got a little card that I made up for a conference I did on innovation. I spoke at a, my topic was innovation and designed to be inspirational and improve the creativity of everybody who attended. But, let me just ask you one more question about working with people internally. I think it was most recently, Richard Thaler, our new Nobel Laureate, commented that people are sometimes suspicious of interventions based on behavior science, and even some really benign things like school lunch line putting the food that the kids are to grab first by preference but isn’t healthy little bit farther back and putting the healthy stuff in front. That’s about as innocent an intervention as you can get, but even there some folks questioned whether that was manipulation. Do you get people who question, “Hey, should we be doing this?” Or has that not really been an issue?

Om Marwah:       It’s an interesting question. And, you do inevitably find individuals who are asking that question. I think it’s a relevant question to ask. And what I usually respond with is essentially, you have to create a lot of value in order for someone to want to engage with something in retail. It doesn’t make sense as a brand if you’re trying to build long-term relationships with individuals, to be creating things that are optimized for a single-time interaction. And so, we as behavioral scientists at Walmart believe that if you are creating amazing, delightful, high-utility experiences by understanding people’s needs and designing them in a way that’s easy and fun and engaging, then you’re gonna lead to really long-term behavior change and long-term engagement. And that’s what ultimately creates value for a business.

So, we inevitably, just because of the strategic priority of having to work on things that create long-term value for our customers, rarely and actually do not end up working on things where we would think that, where perhaps, changing things in a way that is not in line with what people would want.

Roger Dooley:    I think that’s similar to the advice that most folks in this business give, whether it’s teaching people sales tactics, yes, you can abuse sales tactics and close a sale that maybe, the customer will regret a day later, but that’s clearly not the way to build a long-term business. So, since we sort of transitioned into marketing, obviously, I think e-commerce is a big part of what you do. What are some of the things that you’ve worked on, perhaps some advice that our listeners could use in their own businesses?

Om Marwah:       Sure. Well, I can tell you some stuff that we’ve worked on, one of the projects that we worked on was related to Sam’s Club, and specifically, the start of a member’s relationship with Sam’s Club. Oftentimes, we think about, how do we create, how do we help our customers become really long-term and high-value customers that are getting a lot of value out of their interaction with us so it’s a win-win? And one way to do that is to really think about, how do your best-performing customers interact with your business? What do they do when they are engaging with you? Are there certain products they’re using?

Is there a certain way that they’re using them? And really trying to understand the habits or the behaviors of your highest-performing users is really valuable. And then if you can take that and you can model for new users or new customers who have never engaged with your business, these kinds of behaviors, they can get over the cognitive hurdle of figuring out how to really create value through interacting with you.

And so, one thing we did at Sam’s was, we understood that essentially, you have something called the cognitive script, which is a template for a sequence of actions in a particular scenario. So, you can imagine when you go to a restaurant you get your menu, then you get your appetizer, then you get your main. You don’t expect to get your dessert before you get your menu. And we kind of, have a script for how things are supposed to play out. Similarly, in a grocery store concept, people have a script for how they walk a store, the aisles ago down, the products they consider. And that script often forms right at the outset of when they start shopping with you and then continues onwards.

And so, we were aware that if our members are signing up for a new membership, that if they weren’t able to find the really high-value items and the really great things about Sam’s Club early on, especially given it’s a new store environment and given it’s a warehouse club, and for many of you your business may be a new type of environment for your customers, if they couldn’t identify what was awesome about Sam’s Club early on, they may never find it, simply because that’s kind of, how we shop, is kind of planned at the outset.

So, we wanted to create a really fun way for our members to learn about the club and discover things that we knew would lead to kind of, long-term happiness and satisfaction with Sam’s. And so, we decided to build a game, because games, well, really what we needed, is we needed a channel factor. And so, anybody familiar with channel factors knows that it’s Howard Leventhal’s study where they took two groups of students. Group A, they gave a map and urged them to think of a time to go get inoculated, as well as showed them pictures of people who had tetanus, which were really terrible pictures, people with lockjaw and stuff. And the other group, they just told them to get inoculated.

And of course, the group with the map, 28% got inoculated. And the group without the map, and without thinking it was the time to go, 3% got inoculated. So, we knew we needed a channel to help people find these awesome products. And we decided to use a game, as I said, because games serve as really fundamental and powerful learning tools. Exploring, games involving exploring a possibility space, making decisions is fun and incentivized. You get rewarded for them.

And so, we thought, why not create a really fun, exciting game for our members to explore Sam’s Club, buying great items and begin to purchase the things that we know would lead to long-term satisfaction. So, we did that also through rapid prototyping. So, the first day, we just showed up with a flyer to test to see, will people even spend time on something like this. And then after that, we saw, well, where will people go and what will they buy? And through a bunch of paper prototyping we were able to validate our initial hypothesis.

And then through digital prototyping and building things on the fly digitally, we were able to create through over 200 tests, a mobile product, which is now available. If you’re interested in playing the game, you can go to any Sam’s Club in the US today and sign up for a membership. And you can play this game, which directs you around the Club. So, that’s an interesting thing that we built. And I think there are a few takeaways there. One is the rapid testing. Then the second is really understanding, what do your highest-value customers look like, and how do you, in a fun, engaging way onboard new customers to model and find those high-value behaviors your greatest customer is using?

Roger Dooley:    I’m guessing that’s why Sam’s positions the rotisserie chickens not just in the area where the food is, but also near the check-out. Because it seems like that’s one of those products that when I shop there, I tend to pick one up just because it’s sort of, part of the routine. But also when I look at other people’s carts, many of them are buying that product, too. And I can’t imagine that those five dollar chickens are an enormous moneymaker. But to me, there sort of, part of the Sam’s experience that, as you say, keeps people coming back.

Om Marwah:       Absolutely. People love the rotisserie chicken. I don’t know about the positioning piece of it, because I wasn’t involved in that.

Roger Dooley:    You should take credit for it.

Om Marwah:       I can tell you for sure that people love the roto-bird.

Roger Dooley:    Yeah, no doubt. And they’re so inexpensive. And one feeds an entire village, practically. So, to me, that’s smart marketing, whether or not you were involved in that. You talked about customer delight. Let me just ask you about the Walmart customer experience briefly in the retail stores. Whenever you see one of these sort of, customer delight ratings or customer experience ratings, Walmart stores tend to come out pretty low on those. If not at the bottom, then pretty close. Now, and sometimes an experience is part of, it may look odd but it’s part of the design.

For instance, at Sam’s Club you’ve got concrete floors and pallet racks everywhere. And that ambience suggests that, okay, this is a place where I can buy in bulk, I can save money, high-volume store and so on. And of course, they are high-volume stores. So, even though if you wanted to make Sam’s Club look fancier you could, it would actually create sort of, a cognitive dissonance with the purpose of the store. But, I’m curious about the Walmart stores, themselves. Do you see sort of, ongoing tension where that experience needs to be improved? Or is it pretty much where it should be?

Om Marwah:       On that front, I would say the business is definitely making a lot of investments in customer experience. I think customer experience scores are going up. I actually haven’t been that involved with understanding the customer experience inside the Walmart stores where we haven’t really focused on that problem. So, I probably wouldn’t be the best person to ask.

Roger Dooley:    Fair enough. Om, you mentioned customer appreciation in some other correspondence. What have you done in that area?

Om Marwah:       Sure, sure. So, we definitely have thought about customer experience regarding customer appreciation and customer engagement in the stores. I think that the science of, how do you make people feel appreciated? is really, it really connects well with common sense. Sometimes common sense is as good as behavioral science. In this case the science, what it shows, is really connected to common sense. For example, relationship building, a core component of it involves just showing that we care by checking in with people that we are communicating with or that we have a relationship with.

So, simple things such as a check-in. If you have a business and you have a new customer, maybe you email three if you send them a check-in. Or if you see a customer shopping and you check in with them and ask them how everything’s going that level of concern creates a great customer experience. There’s a famous kind of, mint study that I think many people have seen regarding tipping where the, are you familiar with which one I’m-

Roger Dooley:    Yeah, that’s one of Cialdini’s experiments.

Om Marwah:       Yeah, where the restaurant employee, or the waiter basically, comes back with mints and shows a special effort. And that leads to higher tipping than if they just had left mints originally, or had mentioned that there were mints that they were giving the individual, that second trip to give more mints. And shows special effort, which again, kind of, shows concern. And so, if you can give people latitude to be able to, when it’s valuable or necessary, or just would be an awesome experience, to show special effort or do something unique for a customer, which is what we should all be striving to do, I think that creates a deep level of appreciation.

And then lastly, I say, highlighting time. When people spend time with you, that’s an even bigger investment than their money. Our relationship with time is much more personal than our relationship with money. And you can just think of, if I were to say, “Hey, Roger, thanks for spending $33 with me,” or “Thanks for spending half an hour with me,” the half an hour feels a lot more personal. So, if you are appreciating your customers, appreciate the time that they’ve spent with you and connect things back to time. Miller talks about, I think “It’s Miller time,” or something like that. And that’s a relation to obviously, to time versus, “Hey, Miller’s the cheapest beer on the shelf.” So, and I don’t know if it is, I’m just saying that it’s contrast.

Roger Dooley:    Right. And yeah, you probably don’t want to be advertising that you’re the cheapest beer even if you are. So, in your work, Om, do you use any neuromarketing tools, or the kind of tools that are traditionally associated with neuromarketing, things like EG or facial coding or implicit testing are some of the others?

Om Marwah:       No, interestingly enough we don’t. My team is not an insights team, and none of the work that we do is actually really, around insights. We will leverage the decades of literature and behavioral science to come up with perspectives or hypotheses on how to improve a certain business, trying to build a great experience. And then we’ll start just testing it to identify if the customer responds positively. But we’ve never, and I don’t think we’ll ever, really work in that area. I’m not saying it’s not an interesting area. I’m pretty fascinated by the work that’s happening in that space. It’s just not part of our toolbox.

Roger Dooley:    Right. And I think that your sort of, rapid prototyping and testing eliminates the need for some of those tools in the same way that you don’t see e-commerce companies in general, using those tools very much. Because they can so easily try different things and get real results from the marketplace as opposed to running them by hypothetical consumers where there’s got to be some loss of in fidelity between the person that comes into your laboratory or wherever you’re doing your testing and the ultimate purchase, where if you’ve got an e-commerce site that’s doing a lot of traffic can simply try the different approaches and see which one works in the real world.

So it’s not that these tools might not have some application, but by and large I think that quick and easy testing is more certain, when you can do it. If you are an automobile company launching a new product or trying to decide which ad to put on the Super Bowl for a few million bucks, then that’s a different kind of question that maybe those tools can really be valuable, because you can’t really test it very well beforehand.

Om Marwah:       Absolutely. I totally agree with that.

Roger Dooley:    So, let me ask you one last question, here. I want to be respectful of your time. Even the best-known social scientists tend to publish experiments that use a few dozen undergrads as lab rats. And one of the consequences of that has been problems with replicating studies, even some well-known ones. With the scale that you have in your businesses, you could run test with sample sizes in the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions in a relatively short time. Now, you could test every one of Cialdini’s principles or maybe do some priming tests in, not exactly the same way that John Bargh has done, but your brief obviously, is to maximize revenue, or whatever the key performance indicators are that you’re trying to assist the managers with. But are you ever tempted to break new ground in behavioral science and publish some results with a really sort of, massive scale that would be quite definitive?

Om Marwah:       It’s interesting, the teams that I’ve worked on in the past, the first team that I worked on at Walmart was a big data team and was a team of data scientists and I was the behavioral scientist on that team. We actually did publish some research. But that research was more connected to algorithms and optimization. I mean, I’ve thought about publishing related to large-scale behavioral science and the findings that we found. But we, we’re moving so fast Roger, that writing research papers is unfortunately, out of my current capabilities as a human being. But I would love to do it one day.

I think one day maybe, you and I can team up and we can write a book together and I can describe some of the really interesting behavioral science research that we’ve tested. Because we’ve tested a lot of the ideas that have been considered table stakes in the behavioral science literature. And it’s interesting seeing replicability from our end. And it’s interesting seeing where things actually work and where there’s a lot of hype and the nuances around how things work in what context. So, I can tell you we definitely have taken our shot at a large portion of the more known literature to identify how it relates. But the findings are always really mixed and often really unexpected.

Roger Dooley:    Well, great stuff. That sounds like a topic for a future podcast. So, let me remind our listeners that we’re speaking with Om Marwah, Global Head of Behavioral Science at Walmart and Sam’s Club. Om, where can people learn more about you, your Behavioral Science and Marketing Summit, and Take Her Back?

Om Marwah:       Sure. So, if you’re interested in attending the summit, I’d be happy to give you 20% off for being a listener of this awesome podcast. The code that you can use to avail of that is Roger, R-O-G-E-R, if you don’t know how to spell Roger. And you can go to, and you can see our awesome lineup of speakers. We’ve got Robert Cialdini, we’ve got Christopher Graves, who’s the former global CEO of Ogilvy PR, and now runs their Behavioral Science Division. We’ve got the sociologist who’s the new Dr. Ruth, and one of the 100 most creative people in business by fast company working at Tinder, understanding how to match people up online, to the new co-founder of the Google Behavioral Science team who started the White House Behavioral Science team.

So, we’ve got some really interesting speakers from a diversity of companies. So, I’d encourage you to come check it out. And you can also find me on LinkedIn. And my email address is on there, if you’d like to shoot me an email, just find me on LinkedIn and I’d be happy to connect. But thanks a lot, Roger, for your time, and I look forward to hanging out with you at the conference.

Roger Dooley:    Right, well, I do, as well. And I know all the conference proceeds go to Take Her Back. But not all of our listeners will be able to attend the conference. But I think the work at Take Her Back is really important. So, those listeners who want to check it out can go also to And there you can make a donation, or even sponsor a young girl who’s been rescued, for a modest monthly amount. And we’ll have links to all of the sites that Om mentioned, as well as any that we talked about earlier on the show notes page at Om, thanks for being on the show.

Om Marwah:       Thanks a lot, Roger. I had a great time.

Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Brainfluence Podcast. To continue the discussion and to find your own path to brainy success, please visit us at


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  1. Sheena Abraham
    Sheena Abraham10-26-2017

    The study about the light bulb and higher ceilings’ impact on creativity – it sounds so familiar! Can you share who did that study? Thanks!3879

  2. Victor

    Awesome Podcast!

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