It would not be wrong to say that we are slaves to our habits which we have formed over the years influenced heavily by our society, culture and immediate environment.
We wake up to alarms given melodiously by our alarm clocks; have morning tea/coffee and browse through the newspapers and so on – almost every single day without any major changes – and we get a feeling of having a normal morning and a smooth take-off for the day. Any disruption in our habit – like our tea being replaced by a steaming soup or our newspaper being replaced by a movie magazine – jolts us and makes us uncomfortable.
Can we change? Yes we can. We need something powerful and innovative to change our habits. Who can do it? How?
These are the very questions, newer businesses are addressing to ensure that they can influence our behaviour. To create habits in us that will involve their products so that they grow virally without requiring a daily effort on the same customer!
Take Linkedin or Facebook or Twitter. They nurture our social habits of connecting with others, and are today part of our daily routines. Need they sell anything more to you?
But these companies will need to keep pace with the behavioral patterns because habits change with geographiesm, age, influence and other factors. People drop some, and pick up new ones.
What’s more, to remain successful, they need to play a role in creating or disrupting people’s habits and aligning them with organizational products or services. In other words,”the best way to predict the future is to create it.”
The future is full of habits, and corporations will succeed if their products or services are central to maintaining those habits. And companies can’t just focus on meeting the needs and expectations of customers; they have to serve their perceptions — things the customers don’t even know they need until they see them. The iPhone is the often-cited example of this — we didn’t even know we needed it, but when the world saw the iPhone, we embraced it. These categories of products don’t rely on focus groups because only visionaries can truly imagine their usefulness — they create entirely new habits and disrupt markets.
Becoming successful by changing the habits of customers is at the core of many successful brands. In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains how Claude Hopkins, the genius behind Pepsodent, achieved success a century ago by convincing people to brush every morning. Brushing every morning means buying more Pepsodent.
The process of reshaping consumer habits doesn’t necessarily have to be rapid or disruptive to customers. And not every market segment needs to be invaded at the same time: iPhones and digital cameras certainly didn’t work for every market segment right out of the gate. But over time, they diffused and eventually transformed their sectors.
B2B companies that focus on enterprise solutions are no different. To succeed, they need to focus on creating new corporate habits, or on nurturing an existing habit, at the very least. For example, the business model of enterprise video conferencing hinges on the idea that companies will move from physical meetings to virtual ones. If companies like Cisco and Vidyo cannot succeed in reshaping organizational habits in this way, it’s not likely they can grow the sector.
In this realignment of habits lies innovation. Firms who discover a niche way to change habits — and who make their own products an essential element of the new habit — are the ones who will survive and grow.
What habit is your own business reshaping?