The greatest irony is that traditional economics is now facing a new competitor, namely behavioral economics. Behavioral economics attacks the crucial assumption that consumers engage in maximizing behavior. Aiming to maximize utility or profits is the key to building economic decision models. Otherwise, economists would have to work with another assumption, that consumers are basically “satisficing,” stopping short of spending time to maximize and being happy enough to achieve enough of what they want. But the mathematics aren’t there for this behavior and hence the claim of economics to be a science is also weakened.
Behavioral economists, instead of assuming that consumers and producers are maximizers, have to study how different marketing actors actually behave. This involves collecting empirical data. This will lead to recognizing many instances of non-rational or even irrational behavior. How do we explain people paying so much more for coffee at Starbucks or ice cream from Haagen Dazs? How do we explain some low income people voting for Republican candidates when the empirical evidence shows that poor people have done better during Democratic administrations than Republican administrations?
If economists now have to study and explain how consumers actually make their choices, they need to turn to marketing. For a hundred years, marketers have collected data on what, how and why consumers buy what they buy. The data is there. The only conclusion we can draw is that behavioral economics is, ironically, another word for marketing. Marketers have been the behavioral economists!Evonomics
Why Behavioral Economics Is Really Marketing Science
Philip Kotler | S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University