The Hawthorne Effect

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Last week the Platt Institute presented its financial digital-signage research “Test Results from a Bank Branch Digital Communications Network” at Screen Expo in London.

Steven Platt, director of the Platt Institute claimed that this new research was the most detailed ever conducted and we wouldn’t necessary disagree with him on that…

  • The test lasted 90 days
  • 10 bank branches were included
  • Thirty-eight digital cameras were installed in the branches
  • 17,000 hours of video were recorded
  • The behavior of 85,000 bank customers was analysed (via the video)
  • Two waves of exit interviews were conducted involving 750 individuals

But what did the research prove?

According to the article in Digital Signage Today; digital signage was effective in stimulating consumer-message awareness; customer satisfaction increased as a result and the research showed that bank productivity was positively impacted.

The definition of the Hawthorne Effect is often used to describe “people’s behavior and performance change following any new or increased attention” and so it is when any intense research is carried out and so surely it must be in this instance also?

We did some market research on retail banking a couple of years ago. We found through telephone interviews that: –

  • Retail Banks were looking at digital signage because their competitors were looking at Digital Signage
  • Retail Banks admitted that they didn’t do enough in their retail environments to market / merchandise / communicate with customers and as a result nearly all of the digital signage deployments saw a corresponding rise and spend on paper based merchandising as well.

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