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Old habits are a powerful yet overlooked driver of consumer resistance to new products.

It’s hard enough to persuade consumers to buy a new product. But after they buy it, they need to adopt it, which, it turns out, is a major hurdle. Consumer resistance comes in many shapes, and the power of old habits is an oft-underestimated foe. Understanding the phenomenon can prevent a firm’s R&D efforts from winding up on the vast trash heap of failed innovation.

What consumers intend to do and what they actually do are two separate affairs. At some point, most of us have bought an item with every intention to use it and yet failed to do so. Maybe it was a bottle of multivitamins, a new perfume or an ab exercise wheel, a classic example if there ever was one.

Most mechanisms of resistance are active, i.e. consumers make an explicit decision not to adopt a product because of some concern. However, Jennifer Labrecque of the University of Southern California and I, along with non-academic partners, conducted research to examine a form of passive resistance we call habit slips – when consumers fail to adopt a new product by sheer force of habit.

The most common reason for non-adoption

In our paper, published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences, we show that unintentionally slipping back into old habits is the most common reason why consumers rarely use a new product despite their best intentions. However, we also find that marketers can promote the use of a new product by encouraging consumers to integrate it into their existing routines. In short, habit is a powerful force that marketers should leverage, not fight.

We began our investigation with a survey. A set of 150 participants, recruited on MTurk, named two products that they had purchased in the last six months, identifying one that they used regularly and one that they had intended to use regularly but didn’t. They nominated a wide array of products, ranging from electronics to household supplies.

Participants were asked to choose one of 13 possible reasons why they rarely used the product they had bought. The most common answer, accounting for a quarter of participants, was: “I fell back on my old habit and did what I used to do.”Figure 1 lists the top five reasons

Another of our survey findings was that 63 percent of participants said the regularly used products replaced an item that was already embedded in routines. Only 25 percent indicated that the rarely used products had found such a built-in slot in their lives. To illustrate this, think of tofu and soy milk adoption in the United States. Tofu has been produced in the U.S. since 1878, more than a century before soy milk (1985). However, soy milk gained ground much faster, due in no small part to the fact that people could readily use it as a milk substitute. Tofu had no such “luck”. Lacking a clear staple equivalent, it had to carve itself a place in the food habits of Americans.

Piggybacking on existing routines

After the survey, we ran an experiment to evaluate the mechanisms behind habit slips and two specific strategies to overcome them. In this study, 70 college students, split into three groups, trialled a fabric refresher, a laundry product that was new and conflicted with their established habits. They could easily slip back into old laundry habits.

The first group was simply told to use the product on clothes they had already worn but wanted to wear again.

The second group received the same basic instructions but were also asked to specify when, where and how they would use the fabric refresher, e.g. “When I get dressed in the morning, I’ll do a sniff test on the item I want to wear again. If it’s smelly, then I’ll use the fabric refresher.” This “if-then” strategy was meant to promote the use of the product by creating a behavioural trigger. However, it also involved forming a habit where there was none.

Like all other participants, the third group received the basic instructions, but were also instructed to use the fabric refresher as a direct substitute to their existing laundry habit, i.e. whatever they usually did with previously worn clothes they wished to wear again. For example, if the student usually washed her dirty jeans (or alternatively: just grabbed them off the floor before running to class), she was to stop and think: “Don’t do what you normally do. Use the fabric refresher instead.”

Habit slips are like glitches in behaviour

As anticipated, participants from the third group were the most successful at using the new laundry product as they tied it to their existing habit. They used the fabric refresher 19 percent more often than the control group (13.28 vs 11.17 times over four weeks). Usage in the second group (“if-then”) was similar to the control group.

We also confirmed that study participants with strong, clear-cut laundry habits tended to fall back on their usual routine, regardless of their intention to use the new product and their positive evaluation of it. Habit slips are akin to glitches in the rational control of behaviour. Even when consumers fully intend to use a new product they like, old habits get in the way.

Finally, we found that participants were especially likely to fail to use the new product when they didn’t give much thought to their laundry. Not paying attention made it all the easier for them to mindlessly revert to old habits.

What’s a marketer to do?

Although new products and services might appear desirable in the abstract, those that conflict with existing habits are unlikely to be used. Our research indicates the importance of studying barriers to adoption within the context of consumers’ daily lives. This could take the form of ethnographic research (i.e. observing people as they use a product in their own environment) and other types of naturalistic experiments. Consumer reports on actual product use could also prove to be useful.

Instead of fighting consumer habits, marketers should think of ways to leverage them. They could consider, for instance, strategies such as habit stacking, also called piggybacking. In the domain of behaviour change, there is no one-size-fits-all, however. It’s about finding the right fit between a product and the relevant, actual habits of specific consumers.

A lot could be done also in terms of packaging or product design. Successful examples include sweeteners sold in easy-to-carry sachets, nylon shopping bags that fold in a pocket-size format and stationary bikes with earphone jacks and screens for people to watch their favourite TV shows as they exercise.

Fact: Over half of all new products fail. Marketers would do well not to underestimate the role of habits in this sobering statistic, and take heart that a former foe can be turned into a friend.

Written by Wendy Wood,Provost Professor of Psychology and Business at the University of Southern California. From January 2018, she will be the Distinguished Visiting Chair of the INSEAD-Sorbonne University Behavioural Lab.

This article is republished courtesy of INSEAD Knowledge. Copyright INSEAD 2017

Friday, 27 October 2017 00:00

India Today Group launches MobileTak.in

The India Today Group launched a new portfolio of 7 niche digital channels across 6 platforms under the umbrella of Mobiletak.in. 


MobileTak.in is an omniplatform channel and offers visitors an opportunity to know about what’s new, hot, trending, cool and interesting around the world. MobileTak.in users will get access to a hot list of short and crisp videos on a wide range of topics across Sports, Cricket, Bollywood, Politics, Astrology, Food, Technology, Humour, Fashion and News.

This launch unleashes a new era for the group in the mobile space with a clear focus on video content made especially for viewing on the mobile device.

Commenting on this development, Ms. Kalli Purie, Vice Chairperson, India Today Group said, “Content consumption on mobile devices is growing at a phenomenal rate and we are catering to this growing appetite for content on mobile with this new launch. MOBILETAK.IN is Mobile First in content and experience. We always wanted to create a series of niche channels. This would have been a herculean task on Television, but the onslaught of content consumption on mobile and the current digital landscape have enabled in ushering in the simultaneous mega launch of the 7 niche digital channels”.

The portfolio of niche digital channels from MOBILETAK.IN is as below.

Sports Tak – Matches, bouts and everything you need to know to stay updated on sports in India and the world.

Astro Tak – Horoscopes to predictions and what is written in the stars. Get a glimpse of the future so that you can be prepared.

Life Tak – Work life, family, relationships, trends and more. Engage & connect with what matters to you.

Tech Tak – From mobiles to digital platforms, to what’s in and what’s not. Get the latest on gadgets and technology.

Yoga Tak – From health concerns to ageing, there is a yoga hack for everything, learn the asanas, sequences and techniques from the experts anytime and anywhere.

Food Tak – Master traditional Indian & international cuisines, share family recipes and specialties.

News Tak – Quick and short video updates on the latest news in India and around the world.

MobileTak is built over progressive web app technology which works on any handset and any operating system giving users access to content in the remotest parts of the country. The combination of content, technology and ease of sharing makes the platform very engaging for all users. Sharing is at the heart of MobileTak and allows users to share content via Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, E-Mail with just a click of a button.

Integrates Haptik to enhance user Productivity

Times Internet, which already has a 51% market share in user engagement has gone a step further to inform, engage and enable its users by incorporating a virtual personal assistant service in the Times of India App. Powered by Haptik, India’s leading artificial intelligence based personal assistant and chatbot platform, the virtual assistant enables users to set reminders, recharge their mobile, book flights, do web check-ins, make to-do lists, and much more through the Times of India Android News app. Sprite is the exclusive brand partner for this launch integrating the brand very closely with the service.

This first-of-its-kind innovation in a news app also allows users to book cabs (Uber & Ola), make bill payments (DTH and electricity), and pay through the app via credit card, debit card, netbanking and wallets. For the launch period, where users can get 50% cash back on Recharges, Bill Payments, & more via Amazon Pay.

To access the Personal Assistant, users need to tap the hand icon at the top right of the home screen, validate the mobile number and then choose one of the many services that the virtual assistant provides. Users can expect many more features to be enabled on this platform in the coming days.

Commenting on the launch of this new feature in TOI app, Puneet Gupt, COO & Business Head, The Times of India, said, “We are excited with the launch of Virtual Assistant inside the Times of India app. The launch enables us to empower our users with both news-and-information & virtual assistant led productivity within the app that they love."

Aakrit Vaish, Founder & CEO, Haptik, said, "Over the last few years, the Haptik virtual assistant chat platform has grown to millions of users and is one of the highest rated apps in India. Our vision is that the service should be accessible from anywhere people want, and not just be restricted to a single app. Integrating into a news app is a natural fit, and the audience of TOI is exactly the type who will appreciate the service,

Friday, 27 October 2017 00:00

Garima Nagpal joins OYO as Head - Quality

Career hospitality professional to oversee quality across all product verticals - OYO Rooms, Townhouse and OYO Home

Garima Nagpal, a seasoned hospitality professional with over four decades of experience has joined OYO, India’s largest hospitality company. In her new role as Head of Quality, Garima will be responsible for network-wide upgradation of OYO hotels to ensure highest levels of quality, including hygiene and ambience. The appointment is in line with OYO’s commitment to solve supply-demand imbalance and offer beautiful and quality living spaces.

Of her extensive hospitality career, Garima has spent nearly 30 years as the Head of Housekeeping across several hotel chains. She has worked with marquee brands including The Oberoi, Taj, Hyatt, Le Meridien and India Habitat Center. A pre-opening expert associated with opening some of the finest hotels across India, Garima’s skill-set complements OYO’s expansion plans for both its categories - OYO Rooms and Townhouse.

Garima joins OYO from The Imperial Hotel where she was the Executive Housekeeper for 9 years. Prior to that, she was at Aman hotel and The Shangri-La. In 2001, she was hand-picked by the Taj Mahal, New Delhi to help improve the hotel's guest experience scores. She has worked at multiple Oberoi properties including Oberoi Palace in Srinagar, Oberoi Cecil in Shimla, The Oberoi Chandigarh, The Oberoi Delhi, and finally in The Oberoi Towers, Mumbai.

Speaking about the appointment, Ritesh Agarwal - Founder & CEO, OYO, said “OYO was conceptualised to solve the lack of affordable, good-quality accommodation for travellers. In the last four years, our teams have worked incredibly hard to build processes from scratch and deliver a standardised quality of rooms and service. I am very happy to welcome Garima to the OYO family. Her experience and expertise in this domain will be invaluable as we expand further and add new forms of real-estate to our network. Her team will ensure a predictable high-quality experience, every time a guest checks into an OYO.”

Sharing her thoughts on the move, Garima said, “OYO has re-defined Indian hospitality industry through its innovative business model and processes. For someone who has spent their life in this industry, it is invigorating to be associated with this revolutionary brand and contribute to further growth and development of the hospitality ecosystem. I look forward to working with the team and cross-seeding core hospitality learnings in a tech-driven business.”

The summit facilitated an enriching experience on the ‘mobile first’ approach and mobile opportunity for brands

Modern Marketing Summit 2017 has been the quintessential thought leadership forum for brands, agencies and mobile leaders to network and gain insights on all things mobile marketing. Part of the global network of summits in the US, UK, Europe, NZ, Australia and Singapore, MMS India provided a powerful introduction to the region with 200+ of India’s top Brands, Agencies, Publishers and Mobile Innovators in attendance, the 2017 edition showcased the best in class mobile work from different perspectives. The theme of the 2017 summit was MOBILE AT THE CENTER OF YOUR BRAND AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE - ADOPTING THE ‘MOBILE FIRST’ APPROACH. The 2017 edition successfully showcased the best in class mobile work from unconventional perspectives.

MMS New Delhi was an eventful day bringing together the best minds in the industry who shared their insights and expertise on how they’re making mobile platform a priority. The agenda allowed in-depth discussion into topics that included Engaging your Consumer through Emerging Technologies such as AR and VR, Mobile, Mobility & Markets, 10 inventions to lookout for in the next 12 months, Winning the Micro Mobile Moments- how is data helping brands to crack the code, the Right Measure for Video on mobile, The Year Of The Chatbot: how AI and Chatbots are making brand marketing smarter.

Speaking at the MMS 2nd Edition, Jaswant Singh, MD, India, Comexposium said “The clear and dominant focus of marketers and brands is moving towards capitalising engagement through mobile platform. Mobile First approach is moving from just targeting to higher levels of engagement through innovative technologies like VR & AR. MMS 2017 was aimed to capture the true essence of this engagement and a journey of consumers and brands interacting with each other at various levels and how they both mutually benefit each other “

Key Highlights/Quotes from MMS 2017

· Sujit Ganguli, Sr. General Manager & Head - Brand and Communications Group, ICICI Bank- Social media today is inevitably a dynamic platform and players like us need to be 300% sure while mapping customer behavior and customizing deals for them. ICICI works broadly on three factors i.e. data usage, customer behavior on social media platforms, transactions which customers make on the ecommerce sites. Today, mobile is not only a gadget but the consumer behavior and it is really interesting how brands are harnessing this platform.

· Prasanjeet Dutta Baruah, Business Head – Auto, Telecom & New Business, Facebook India- Initially it was one to many- then one to one – and now it is one to community kind of transactions. The idea is to use info for relevant communication and how to make it micro momentish. E-commerce clients have a program for core customers and look alike audiences- it generates prospective buyers and we have seen 50% in CPRs and cost of acquisition went down.

· Maneesha Khanna, Director – Global Media & Content COE, PepsiCo- Mobiles today attract much more eyeballs than TVs for viewing videos. 60% of the video today is viewed on mobiles and as a brand; we can’t afford to ignore this fact.

· Ashish Tiwari, Head, Digital Marketing and PR, Hero Cycles Ltd- Today’s business model is mobile first and mobile only world i.e. screen, location, context and intention aware. Mobile centricity is required for search, advertisement, content engagement, sales and support. Today, every user including digital employees, customers think, act and expect differently. They want every business to feel, serve and work just like their favorite app.

· Sujatha V Kumar, Director - Category Marketing & Corporate Brand, The Coca-Cola Company- To engage more consumers a brand needs to create more content. Small screen today gives users a freedom to watch content as per their personal choice. Content viewing has evolved from what was broadcasted on television earlier. We as a brand, now are increasingly utilizing the mobile platforms to build engaging content and increase reach.

· Bhaskar Ramesh, Head of YouTube Sales & Brand Advertising- The role of video is different for brands to understand the customers’ journey. More than the established players, it is the small players who have to customize their video content to engage more with their customers. Video from daily soaps to On-Demand Web-Video shows assisted by dramatic growth in 4G & cheaper data, the Shift on Mobile has been substantially visible to engage with customers across regions.

With innovative Data owners such as Zeotap, ComScore and 100+ brands like Jubilant FoodWorks, Tata, GSK, PepsiCo India, The Coca-Cola Company, the summit facilitated a holistic view across industries on mobile. The Street Food Fiesta and Mobexx Awards entertained the attendees delightfully at the conclusion. The key note sessions at the MMS 2nd Edition included Winning The Micro Mobile Moments - How Is Data Helping Brands To Crack The Code, Engaging Your Consumer Through Ar And Vr – How Brands Are Innovating Using These Emerging Technologies, Mobile Ad Fraud – Is Enough Being Done To Curb This Menace, Data In The Digital Advertising Era And How Brands Can Benefit From It and Mobile, Mobility & Markets.

Some of the biggest names from the industry including Sunder Madakshira, Head Of Marketing, Adobe, Ramesh Bhaskar, Head Of YouTube Sales & Brand Advertising, Google India, Kedar Gavane, Vice President, India, ComScore, Tushar Vyas, Chief Strategy Officer – GroupM, Pankaj Munjal, Managing Director, Hero Motors Company, Abhinav Kumar, Country Development – Trivago, Maneesha Khanna, Director- Global Media & Content COE – PepsiCo India, and Subroto Gupta, SVP & Head of Innovation & Business Excellence - Jubilant FoodWorks Limited. Other eminent speakers included Tejinder Singh, COO - Arvind Internet , Tomas Hrdlicka, Chief Marketing Office - HomeCredit, Sauvik Banerjjee, CTO TataCLiQ, VP-Digital Initiatives- Tata industries & Advisor to Group Companies, Anita Nayyar, CEO India-SouthAsia – Havas Media Group were of part of the 2017 edition.


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