This is the core message in Neale Martin’s book Habit: The 95% of Behavior Marketers Ignore. The author is a Marketing Consultant to large technology companies. He has Ph.D. in Marketing and a background in psychology, which is a great combination when trying to understand consumer behavior. Martin maintains that most of our decisions, including buying decisions, are based on habit, not reason, and that customers are on auto pilot most of the time as our brains try to automate decisions to avoid overload.
He strongly believes that marketers are wasting their money by appealing to people’s logic, and that instead we should focus on making the purchase of our product or service so habitual that customers don’t even think about it. Martin maintains that “An automatic repurchase habit might mean that a customer doesn’t even give your brand a thought”. Alarming isn’t it? but according to Martin that’s exactly what we should strive to do.
Marketers are on to something when they develop ads that appeal to people’s emotions, but need to take it a step further to ensure their product actually becomes a habit.
Martin believes that asking customers their opinions is misleading because they’re not consciously making their decisions and asking them to analyze your product might lead them to realize that another product is actually better. According to Martin companies are wasting their resources in striving for customer satisfaction as research shows there is no link between customer satisfaction and repurchase. Satisfied customers say they will repurchase but in most case don’t. “Instead of focusing on customer satisfaction, companies should be dedicated to customer habituation”, says Martin.
I was taken aback to see Martin discredit the marketing theories that have become the core of modern marketing, but was intrigued to read on. If you decide to read the book I advise you to suspend your judgment; the ideas presented will challenge your long-held beliefs about consumers, but it is rewarding to read about the real life examples that make you go “aha…”. For instance the author describes how Microsoft has managed to become the market leader, to the extent of getting penalized for being a monopoly, while their products are mediocre. They have been so successful in making their product a habit, that any PC user knows how to use MS Office would have to go through a steep learning curve before using an application that was radically different from Word, Excel or PowerPoint.
I was eager to move on to the second half of the book to read Martin’s specific advice on how to become the customer’s habit and how all of this relates to the 4Ps of Marketing and the basics of marketing as we know it.
My conclusion after reading the book is that small businesses are much better positioned to implement some of the ideas presented in this book. They don’t have the complex organizational structures that stifle change; their limited budgets force them to only spend on what works; and with TV advertising and Madison Avenue advertising firms out of their price range, they can embrace social media and use these cost effective channels to influence behavior and to ultimately become their customer’s habit.
So, what’s your take, are you ready to ditch the old marketing theories? What do you feel influences consumer purchases? I’d love to read your comments.Photo Credit: Blue Square Thing