Holy Grail for Brands: Purchase of Their Product Becomes Habitual

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Holy Grail for Brands: Purchase of Their Product Becomes Habitual

By Chris Gelbach - 06/19/2018
Fresh Intelligence's Corrine Sandler

Schaumburg, Ill. — Brand marketers should focus on building consumer habits instead of customer loyalty as a path to success, urged Fresh Intelligence Research Corp. CEO Corrine Sandler.

Presenting at the Path to Purchase Summit in March, Sandler cited a recent study in which her company asked 1,000 people across the U.S. if they had to go without one of two things for the entire year, which they would go without. The choices were their mobile phone or sex. Seventy percent said they’d rather go without sex for a year than without their mobile phone.

“The interesting thing is, a lot of people weren’t surprised by this result,” Sandler said. “Because a mobile device is with us 24/7. It has become habitual. And when products and brands have become embedded in our routine, we truly will do anything for them.”

According to Sandler, 45% of our daily activities are habitual. “Imagine your brand, your organization, your product, your service becoming a routine purchase,” she said. “Becoming a habit. Becoming an unconscious decision to purchase and use. That is truly the holy grail.”

Sandler covered the concept of neuroplasticity, the concept of your brain as a dynamic, connected pathway with billions of rows lining up every time we think, feel or do something. The well-traveled rows are habits, but we can all learn and change by rewiring our brain. When new neural pathways lead to new behavior, the phenomenon is called behavioral plasticity.

“It really and truly is the goal of every organization to influence their customers or their potential customers’ behavior toward their current offering by being able to change these neural pathways in the long term that will ultimately lead to a habit,” she said. To do this successfully, according to Sandler, requires a powerful insight.

Sandler then introduced attendees to the Fresh 3E model, her company’s insight-focused quantitative survey that looks at the metrics of emotion, experience and engagement in relation to a brand or product to identify the pain points that are preventing habit formation.

A habit requires three elements: a cue, repetition and a reward. The cue triggers our memory of doing the same action or routine previously and helps to initiate the behavior again. Repetition helps to ingrain the habit. And the reward provides a motivation to repeat the behavior.

Sandler then cited Procter & Gamble’s Swiffer as an example of a product that became habitual by using an insight model to address a pain point. “It all started with an insight: People are cleaning their mops as much as they’re cleaning their floors,” she said. “We found that the biggest pain point was if I clean my floor, I have to clean my mop. That’s why I clean my floor less frequently and don’t enjoy the experience.”

Swiffer used this insight to create a cleaning tool consisting of a wet towel on a stick that could be thrown away once it was soiled. It solved the pain points of making cleaner faster and eliminating the need to clean a smelly mop, encouraging consumers to clean more often. Through an understanding of repetition and habit formation, P&G changed consumer behavior and made millions. “I love using this example because a lot of people talk about disruptive products and technology,” Sandler said. “This was a basic household item that used great insight to effect change in behavior.”

She encouraged every brand to find, through research and insights, the right pain points to disrupt behavior. “The bottom line is that motivation will get your customers buying. But it truly is building habits, building a routine in their life, that will keep them buying,” Sandler said.