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January 5, 2015
Can Marketing Affect New Year's Resolutions?
 
During the beginning of a new year, many consumers are swept up in making changes. The changes can range from changing up lifestyle habits to making major life-changing decisions. All in all, it is about changing their "habit loop."

We have talked about habit time and again, because habit affects default decision-making, which affects choice, which then has marketing and business implications. But can marketing really "disrupt" the habit loop in a way that will convince consumers to make a change?

As always, it depends.

Like we said when discussing choice earlier, consumers are fantastic at categorizing, yet quite awful at comparing different categories to each other. Therefore, a small detail change against another small detail cannot fathomably be measured against a large detail change against a large detail. For example, changing toilet paper brands is hard to measure against changing jobs. However, in some cases, the decision-making could be just the same.

So what can marketing do? It can frame the conversation. Marketing and advertising have the unique capacity to raise or lower switching cost barriers and help the consumer make decisions. They can reinforce the change by adding social proof aspects (showing all the other people 'like you' making the change).

It is important that these marketing activities portray information necessary for the consumer to make a choice. No fluff or eye-candy will make a decision stick. Changing a habit is a serious matter, and should be treated as such.

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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