We need to effect a behaviour change.

Many briefs have this ambition, whether explicit or implicit.  A brief that seeks to drive loyalty, drive frequency or drive penetration wants some kind of behaviour habit change.

Yet behaviour change is a tough nut to crack. Latest theories about how advertising works fashionably claim that it reinforces existing habits rather than makes a change.  Books like “Herd” by the inimitable Mark Earls show how the behaviour of your tribe affects you, and some ways to effect it.

In my book “Tell the Truth” I write about the opportunity to get behavioural routines to work in your favour – don’t try and change behaviour if instead you can leverage an existing routine instead – this is easier and cheaper.

There are times when there is a massive change in someone’s behaviour.  We can absolutely predict when it is going to happen, and by understanding what’s going on in the target audience’s lives in this respect we gain an opportunity to offer up a behaviour substitution that can help to answer a brief.

Back to school is one of those seasonal changes of course, much exploited by supermarkets seeking to sell school uniforms and pencil cases, but less so by brands who could perhaps exploit the extra down time or mental availability of non working mums in the autumn months, especially ones with kids just starting full time education.

This weekend of course is another one.  For millions of football fans there is a massive change in behaviour for the next few weeks.  Not just for the fans, but for their families.  Many brands are gearing up to advertise around the World Cup.  Will anyone target fans in the odd few weeks of non action preceding the big competition?

This is yet another argument for the need for real time research about people’s habits and routines.  Anyone still basing the totality of their advice on one moment in time diary desk top traditional research without understanding what the consumer is up to now in real time, isn’t doing their job.

Behaviour change number one therefore, needs to occur (if it hasn’t already) within the planning discipline itself and is to make sure that any recommendation for a media schedule is topical, real time and in tune with the real lives of the target market.


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