Break a habit, make a profit

Richard Shotton, eputy head of evidence at Manning Gottlieb OMD, explains the “broken escalator phenomenon”.  First described by Raymond Reynolds from the University of Birmingham, occurs because through repeated experience we’ve developed a habit that we can’t fully over-ride. It’s the same reason that when an escalator is broken, even though you know it’s not moving, you thrust your chest forward to account for the speed you usually encounter.

As nearly half of habitual behaviour is habitual, a great threat to brands, Shotton poses the question ‘How do you persuade people to purchase your brand if most of the time they are on auto-pilot, mindlessly buying the same product as last time?’.

After surveying 2,370 nationally representative customers, Richard Shotton and Laura Weston were able to conclude that since habits are context-specific, if a consumer’s environment changes, their habits become loosened. For example, when consumers undergo a life event, their environment is changed so much it destabilises habitual behaviour.

Brands need to be able to identify these moments and understand which live-events are most applicable to heir category.

For example, for make-up, the crucial ones are when a consumer changes their social group – when they start a job, start university or get divorced. In these circumstances, buyers might need a confidence boost or take the opportunity to forge a new look.

It will be that brands that carefully choose the right moment to communicate that will ensure that their message has the maximum impact.

Read the full article here.

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