Creating Your Consumer Habits

The trend today is to intentionally create habits when offering brands, in order to get consumers to marry your products.

Habits are shortcuts that desaturate our minds of the complex cognitive processes that they have been exposed to or from a task performed repeatedly.

The saturation in advertising and the excess of options available in the market make it increasingly difficult for people to choose products or services. The effectiveness of advertising messages is weakened over time; even when you have the opportunity to grab attention and get consumers to try an offer, the challenge remains to retain them.

The big trend in marketing and innovation is to intentionally create habits when offering brands because human habits, once formed, are hard to break—and with that, we can ensure a long-term relationship with our consumers.

How do we create habits in people’s minds?

Habits are shortcuts that desaturate our mind of the complex cognitive processes (rationalization) that we have been exposed to repeatedly or from a task we perform repeatedly. For example, driving a car or brushing our teeth are tasks that initially required a considerable mental effort (learning), but steadily over time became minimal or effortless. That is, these tasks are now part of our subconscious mind. Rather than think, we are on autopilot.

But what role do behaviors and habits have in purchasing decisions? According to researchers from Duke University, 40 percent of our daily behaviors are governed by habits. As for purchasing decisions, Harvard University professor Gerald Zaltman points out that 95 percent occur in the subconscious mind.

In other words, when a person’s brain is confronted with several decisions during the day, their natural reaction is to avoid fatigue and automatically eliminate those brands that have not established a routine relationship or become a habit—their main motivation to purchase.

Engineering habits

There are several ways that products and services can form habits (BJ Fogg, Persuasive Design; Nir Eyal, Hooked; James Clear, Transform Your Habits), but most agree with Charles Duhigg’s idea conceptualized in his book, The Power of Habit, that in order to create a habit, you must have the following loop/cycle:

PRize1) Signals (Triggers/Cues)

The triggers are what initiate an automatic behavior. These are given by an advertisement (visual, auditory, informative, interactive, contextual, and social, etc.) that can enhance or inhibit emotions (boredom, loneliness, frustration, confusion, surprise, joy), thus influencing behavior.

For example, some people who are experiencing some degree of loneliness or need to connect with someone use Facebook to remind themselves, through notifications, that there is a friend online at all times.

2) Routine

It is the behavior that puts us on autopilot after receiving a signal. For example, we answer the phone when it rings or check messages when we hear the beep in instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp, LINE, and WeChat.

PRizePrize (Reward)

A reward is a benefit or benefits a person earns by performing a behavior. It goes beyond just giving a gift or a promotion; it’s the anticipation and resolution of an emotional need—survival, advancement, or social relationship is the ultimate prize.

In the case of Facebook, for example, loneliness is alleviated when a person receives a response or feedback on their contributions.

If we think of Google, our need for resources to find directions or knowledge is satisfied because we receive information almost instantly through the search engine. And speaking of progress, the Adidas miCoach platform motivates us with daily delivery metrics to show us our progress.

In conclusion, the suggestion is to bring this three-step model into practice. Explore what behaviors are performed by consumers or those that aren’t and figure out why.

Once we understand and map the behavior with a need, we can define a habit that will be part of our brand building and communication.

So we must push our brands to go beyond just a message that generates attention, but rather reinforce behavior change through a habit.