Marketing & Habit Formation

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In a recent discussion of a proposed new product, Alan McClure suggested that the product might be so simple to use, that it could become a cultural phenomenon overnight — simply through habit formation.

That comment led to a long discussion of retailers and products that we all buy almost out of habit.

– Southwest is the winner in the airline category for simplifying ticket purchases, check in and rewards.

– Apple’s stores are the best at the brick & mortar retail experience: well-displayed products, knowledgeable employees, roving employees with wireless credit card readers/printers and the best technical support anywhere.

– Amazon.com is the master at simplifying an on line purchase. The company’s patented "One Click" makes buying almost too easy. (My business manager once told me that I have $100/week habit on Amazon.)

Mike Laddin, LeaderPoint‘s president, weighed in on the idea of habit formation and retailing. His point is that the retailers that remove the most friction from a buying process and offer solid products – benefit the most from repeat purchasers. Ease of use – becomes frequent use – becomes habit.

Mike explained, "Many firms attempt to remove friction from their internal processes (to make them more efficient) – only to have that process add friction to the customer.  What matters is ease of shopping/selections/buying process from the customer’s perspective."

How much friction is there in your retail process? How many customers buy from you out of habit?

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