Humans tend to engage in routine behaviours and often do not question these choices until forced to do so. For example, a study found that some 5% of Londoners had not realized that their daily public transport choices were sub-optimal until the tube strike in 2014 forced them to change their itineraries. This tendency to adopt routines is visible in numerous purchasing decisions – people usually buy their coffee at the same bar, order the same drinks on subsequent restaurant visits or visit the same retailer even if another one is as convenient.
We investigated shopping trip characteristics to understand which factors enhance or decrease the likelihood of sticking with the same brand on subsequent occasions. We analysed brand choices of 40,000 households in three categories (shampoo, cola, coffee) in both UK and Germany over a three-year period. Based on more than 2m subsequent purchase occasions we identified both habit-shaping and habit-breaking trip characteristics.
Habit-Shaping: Trip characteristics which remind the shopper of his latest category purchase shape habits: visiting the same retailer, shopping for the same mission, and choosing the same package size all increase the likelihood of choosing the same brand as on the previous trip.
Habit-Breaking: Trip characteristics which kick people out of their usual habits decrease the probability of brand sticking: buying on promotion on either date or a large category assortment on the second occasion usually decrease rebuying the same brand. The same happens when a longer period passes between the two occasions which makes recalling of past choices less likely.
The stickiness for specific retailers or among certain consumer segments can help brands identify contexts in which they suffer from lower-than-expected repurchasing rates. The importance of this specific context helps evaluate the size of the prize to be reaped from better performance. This analysis can for example help small brands understand how and in which contexts it is most rewarding to try breaking established habits and “steal” shopping occasions from established players. Conversely, it supports established players to understand and prepare for situations when habit breaking is more likely. Get in touch to learn how sticky your brand is!