Trend - BITE sized marketing trends

Make the Habit

How to influence behaviour change

I was told that performing a task for 21 days in a row would turn it into a habit. Unfortunately, in researching for this trend I’ve found that this may not be true. The 21-day myth began as a misinterpretation of Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s work on self-image. He actually wrote “it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.” In the decades that followed, Maltz’s work influenced many self-help books, people latched on to the idea of 21 days and the myth grew in popularity.

It appears that a good habit, in-fact, requires consistent commitment. As does breaking a bad habit. As marketers our role is to influence behaviour change, so we’re in a great position to help with both. Stoptober, originally a marketing idea from 23Red and Public Health England, has helped millions of people to stop smoking over the last four years. Building on this success PHE has developed One You – a campaign that encourages people to reappraise more of their lifestyle choices, and helps them to adopt new behaviours that put their health first (see case study below).

In the beginning behaviour change is easy, its new, we’re motivated. But beware, we’re in the honeymoon period. When inspiration fades and reality sets in, that’s when we need to fight through. The key to winning this fight is to recognise you’ve reached it. Bringing emotion into the equation will help: ‘How will I feel if I do/don’t do this?’ As will projecting into the future. When Aviva wanted more people to start planning for old age, rather than telling them what to do, they made an app that looked into the future. They were able to show customers what kind of life they would have at their current saving rate, thus prompting positive behaviour change in the present.

Once the habit kicks in we’ve made it, we’re in the flow. However, there are still a few interruptions that could send us back. Feeling discouraged or distracted by something new can steer us off course. Apps like Nike+ provide achievable trophies, leaderboards and social feeds to keep users motivated. Disruptions such as holidays or illness can get in the way too. Google’s new calendar feature Google Goals updates in real-time, adapting to missed classes or unforeseen appointments, making it easy to juggle life and achieve set ambitions.

Let’s make a resolution to recognise the real goals and ambitions of our customers. In doing this we can find a place as enablers and motivators, helping people form positive new habits this new year.

Public Health England battles sugar

Parents want their children to eat healthily and build good food habits. The problem is, when it comes to sugar, many parents themselves are unaware of the amount contained in different products.

Research revealed that some British children are eating 5,543 sugar cubes each year - this is equivalent to the weight of an average five year old. This prompted Public Health England to launch a major campaign about the dangers of too much sugar, complete with a new phone app to help parents.

The Sugar Smart app, together with a new advertising campaign, has been developed to raise awareness of how much sugar is contained in food and drink, and help people switch to healthier alternatives. By scanning an item’s barcode, the app will display the sugar content in a visual way that’s easy for parents and children to understand.

A cross-media campaign, including support from some famous faces, helped the initiative reach 160 million and become the No.1 downloaded app. Most importantly, it’s helped 81% of people to cut down their sugar intake.

Agency: M&C Saatchi, London

said the app helped them cut down sugar
14 million
scans and counting

Unilever’s chatbot encourages perfect brushing

Unilever are working to drive worldwide behavioural change, with a free service encouraging parents and children to brush their teeth together and develop good brushing habits for life. Signal Pepsodent branded ‘Little Brush, Big Brush’ is one of the first unique animated chatbot series within the FMCG category, designed to educate and entertain families about oral health. Available on Facebook Messenger, the new digital platform tells the story of a family that are transported to a magical realm inhabited by quirky animal characters. To find their way home, the family must complete regular brushing challenges and users are encouraged to participate in the evening adventure.

Agency: R/GA London, London

Happy Forecast – How happy is your postcode?

Sharing the same space for just a few minutes a day with kind and friendly strangers has been shown to make us more optimistic, improve our self-esteem, and feel safer within our environment. The Happy Forecast is a webGL-powered interactive map of London that ranks each postcode by the positivity of the communities that inhabit them, after 700 hours of community observation throughout all 119 borough postcodes. The first social experiment of its kind, the index created a new interest in social wellbeing, encouraging local residents to change their behaviour towards neighbours and visitors to their area of the city.

Agency: Clubhouse Studios, London

How are you? Take this PHE quiz

How are you? Have you ever really thought about the answer to this question? Modern life doesn’t make it easy to be healthy. We spend more time commuting and sitting down at work than we used to, unhealthy snacks are more available than ever, and finding time to balance work and family can leave us stressed and tired. This is causing many of us to fall into unhealthy habits. 2017 is time to start the fight back. The How Are You quiz helps participants to see how their health measures up, and provides the resources and support to facilitate positive change.

Agency: freuds, London

About the author

Kara Melchers, Managing Editor, BITE

Kara has editorial control over BITE, Creativebrief’s daily insight into global marketing trends and the cultural movements driving them. She runs BITE INSPIRE sessions in the UK and US, for brands including Virgin Atlantic, A.G. BARR, British Gas and Pepsico. She also presents at our BITE LIVE events series and industry festivals in London and New York. Get in touch if you’re working on an interesting project