Habits are a fundamental part of human behaviors and have a huge, often understated control over the decisions we make every day. Anyone who has tried to break a habit will understand just how difficult that can be and understand that willpower is often secondary to the external factors in play.
Any advice on breaking habits will include the following five factors:
The levers to break a habit can be reversed to make a habit, or in other words create a behavior change.
Consider that buying a new product is a behavior change for a consumer; for some it will be a trial purchase or even just a consideration, but others will develop into a regular habit (loyal customer). Purchase intention is like willpower, in that it is only a small part of the picture. To fully understand the likelihood of converting intention into behavior we need to assess the strength of these behavior change factors, as ultimately the combined context from these will have a much bigger influence than purchase intention.
Creating behavior/purchasing will always be more difficult than switching from one purchase/behavior to another. This is because the cues and the infrastructure can be transferred. Compare the ease of swapping cereal for choco cereal, vs. swapping cereal for smoothies. The cereal exchange has the infrastructure and cues that can be transferred; the weekly supermarket shop and a trip to the cereal aisle. The smoothie requires new apparatus, a new shopping behavior i.e. more fruit, new understanding of recipes etc. The greater the level of behavior change the harder the keystone action is to achieve.
To truly understand purchase intention we have to understand the reality that surrounds the consumer, otherwise we are reliant on their willpower alone. And when was the last time you said no to a chocolate biscuit…
For more information, please contact Sam Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe to GfK Insights