Consumer Behavior

Consumer Behavior and Brand Loyalty

Why are we loyal to certain brands? Are we more likely to prefer the brand with the best features, or the lowest price, or the brand that a trusted friend recommended to us? Why is it that we may gladly pay thousands of dollars in premium to get a luxury car brand like a BMW, while we are eager to save pennies by choosing the store brand for butter? This type of behavior is not rational.

Consumer behavior branding

We all like to believe we have solid logic behind our decision-making, but is this true? From a sheer processing standpoint, our rational mind represents less than 10% of our brainpower while the intuitive mind makes up more than 90%. In his book, Thinking Fast & Slow, Nobel Prize winning behavioral economist Daniel Khaneman explains how it is the automatic operations of the intuitive and sub-conscious mind that provide the “impressions and feelings that are the main sources of the explicit beliefs and deliberate choices” that make up the rational mind. Khaneman calls the Intuitive Mind “System 1” and the rational mind “System 2.”

Unconscious Behaviors and Brands

Brand loyalty is a learned unconscious behavior. Buying brands we know simplifies our lives by putting hundreds of daily decisions on auto-pilot and relieving us of the time and effort required to process each and every decision. As a marketer we “win” when we get customers to buy our brand by habit, without thinking about it.

Making Your Brand a Habit

The human mind is excellent at recognizing patterns and likes to follow and repeat patterns. If we want customers to get into the habit of buying our brand we must understand the how consumer behavior is driven in large part by the force of habit. The is a 5-step process for switching someone from another brand to our brand.

Habit Branding

  1. Disrupt the Old Habit – consumers are already into the habit of buying a competitive brand. Unless we INTERRUPT the existing habit we have no chance of introducing our product. Importantly, since the customer’s decision-making process is largely on autopilot we need to actively disrupt their pattern of thinking in order to get their attention and consideration.
  2. Trigger the New Habit – once we have their attention, we must send cues that activate and trigger the new habit. The cues should use powerful imagery and relevant contextual signals whenever possible.
  3. Reward the Behavior – giving a strong positive reward for the behavior conditions the mind that the behavior is desirable. Rewards can and should come in many ways including tangible benefits and emotional rewards.
  4. Repeat the Behavior – behaviors only develop into habits after repetition. It is important to have the customer repeat the behavior on a recurring basis to ingrain the behavior so that it develops into a sub-conscious and automatic habit.
  5. Maintain the Habit – after the behavior becomes a routine, it is important to protect the habit and guard against any disruption. Disruption can come from the brand itself by making unexpected changes to the product or the pricing or they can come from competitors. It is best to continue to deliver a strong, consistent brand promise and to provide on-going brand experiences that strengthen the attraction to the brand.