The psychology of consumer behavior

If there’s one thing we can be certain about in these times, it’s that our behaviors have changed significantly because of COVID-19. The pandemic created an inflection point that led people to reassess their priorities and needs, and buy goods and consume information and entertainment in new ways.

Pivoting without due consideration, however, carries a risk that’s substantial for businesses. And it can be difficult for marketers to determine which of these new consumer behaviors will stick for the long term, or even as things become less uncertain.

Asking people what new habits they’re likely to keep might not lead to accurate answers. Research has shown that there is a gap between our intentions and what we actually do. We’re inept at forecasting our own behaviors, especially in an event as novel as a pandemic.

The good news for marketers is that the psychological factors which underpin long-term behavioral change are predictable, even if the external forces people face can’t be predicted. Understanding why and how people form habits can help us better predict how people may react in, and after, novel situations.

A recent Kadence International survey of 3,400 participants across APAC revealed what mattered most to people when deciding whether to adopt new behaviors. In total, five factors stood out: convenience, time-saving, cost-effectiveness, enjoyment, and personal reward. These factors were used to create a habit-forming index that tracks the importance of an activity to people and how likely they are to continue that activity in the future.

To help brands assess which behaviors they should pay attention to, the matrix marries what people say they are likely to continue doing with a realistic assessment of whether these behaviors will stick.

Here, we look at some key behaviors people have been engaging in since the pandemic and the opportunities for brands to motivate people to turn these behaviors into habits.

Key behaviors that will last beyond the pandemic
Instead of convincing people to form new habits, brands can score quick wins by responding to behaviors that people are already demonstrating, especially behaviors that rate highly on many of the habit-forming attributes because they are sticky:

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