The cover article of the New York Times Magazine this week contains a really fascinating dive into the world of habit formation and marketing. It details Target’s efforts to identify the points in life when our ingrained shopping habits are most up for change, the biggest of which is the birth of a first child. It’s a long article but really worth the time. The author dives into the science of habit formation, which has become a major field of research in neurology and psychology. As he says, “one study from Duke University estimated that habits, rather than conscious decision-making, shape 45 percent of the choices we make every day.”
Around page 5 you will find reference to Febreeze and their hiring of an unnamed Harvard professor to conduct in-depth interviews to turn around the lagging sales of the new product launch. I think the author has taken some liberties with making it seem like that study was all about habit formation, as (to my recollection) our findings had more to do with forging a campaign that focused less on the technology of the product and more on the emotional rewards of using it. Nevertheless, you can see how many of our studies could actually align nicely with this current push to understand, and reshape, consumer habits.
Many thanks to Sybil for flagging this one!