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The Power of Habit

Mar 18, 2014
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I am reading (or rather listening, via Audible) a book called the The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change by Charles Duhigg. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to understand the psychology of habits and how to improve good habits and stamp out bad ones!

The Power of Habit

On a basic level, cravings and routine drives habits. When I had a corporate job I formed a coffee habit, it was a ritual. Every day I would reward myself with a coffee from my favourite coffee shop after my daily commute into work. It was an expensive habit, but made that tube journey so much more bearable knowing I would get that welcoming kick of coffee at the other end – one of life’s little pleasures

How to change Habits If you are involved in any change management you will understand it is all about creating the feelings and rewards to motivate individuals to take ownership and focus on a few things to introduce a lasting change of habit. Telling people what to do just won’t work – I don’t know about you, but if I am preached at it actually makes me want to do the opposite.

Habits – Cue, Routine and Reward Habit, as Duhigg explains has three elements “Cue, Routine and Reward”. There is much scientific evidence and research into how we form both good and bad habits. Companies like Proctor & Gamble and Google spend millions studying the habits we have, whether it is the way we shop, perform domestic duties or look at a computer screen. You don’t need to be a global giant to learn from the science of habit, though.

Make your product or service a habit for customers Think about the product or service you offer. Can you make it become a habit for your customers? Is there something you can do to incentivise them or provide a cue to help? Give them a reusable bag to shop with, a pen to fill in that form or a loyalty card to keep coming back. The feeling of achieving something, or the sensation a customer gets from using your product all helps to form a craving or routine which leads to habit.

Can you make it easy for your customers to form a habit to your products, so they don’t have to think, rather just do? I love the apps on my phone, they make shopping, creating lists, being organised, or keeping track of a jog so easy and have become habits for me.

Even familiarity with a store layout leads to habit. I know when my local supermarket rearranges shelves or aisles it takes me twice as long to shop. This is because I am in the habit of buying the same products and whizzing around. It also takes up less mental energy as you don’t have to “think” about what you are doing. I am sure many can relate to this.

Habits can be easily formed In countries and cities where single use bags are disallowed or charged for, people soon get the reusable bag habit. Not from the government or pressure groups telling them that it is good for the environment, but from the habit of keeping some in the car or handy each time they go to the shops until it is part of a routine so they do not have to think about it.

What habits can you help your customers form to use your products and services? What rewards can you offer customers or which rewards will they feel using your product? The answer will differ depending on your service and your market, but it’s an interesting concept and one that any marketer would do well to consider. How have you used the power of habit to attract and retain customers? About Smartbags

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