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If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.Dalai Lama

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How can businesses use habit formation as a core part of their marketing strategy?

Author(s): Neale Martin

Publisher: FT Press

Date of publication: 2008

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A book or an article sometimes promotes an idea which seems perfectly obvious in retrospect, but which had been forgotten in the process of seeking original ways to improve business practices. “Habit” is such a book.
Most of our behaviors arise from force of habit, points out Neale Martin. Admittedly, you probably don’t need an expert to tell you that. But recent advances in neuroscience have made it possible to quantify the role of the subconscious in our decisions. Indeed, it appears that we make no less than 95 percent of our choices below the threshold of conscious awareness! Yet, most marketing strategies are designed as if the majority of purchasing decisions were rational. For example, satisfaction studies are based on the assumption that a satisfied customer will purchase the same product or service again, and will tend to look elsewhere if dissatisfied. However, in practice, the correlation between satisfaction and loyalty is not all that strong! Likewise, asking customers to define their needs and how well the brand meets those needs would seem quite sensible, until you realize that customers don’t know what their real needs are and tend to make decisions essentially out of habit.
The author draws his conclusions from this observation. Why shouldn’t businesses use habit formation as a core part of their marketing strategy? Indeed, there is a lot companies can do to form or break habits, provided that they realize that they are not addressing the conscious mind of their customers, but helping them to acquire reflexive behaviors.
This original look at marketing naturally contains its own limitations, but will encourage you to challenge certain assumptions, and perhaps even to break some of your own deeply rooted habits!