Brush your teeth, wash your face… and head to Muffin Break?

A study has found that Muffin Break is the most ‘habitual’ brand, meaning consumers are most likely to engage with this product on autopilot. The study also found 65% of women were loyal to products that they liked, women are still responsible for 85% of purchasing decisions and 46% of consumers’ daily lives were driven by routine and habit.

The study, conducted by BrandHook, titled ‘Consumers buy on autopilot: What does this mean for your brand?’ contained more than 35 observational in-home sessions with more than 100 women and 2000 responses from an online community forum that were then validated with a sample of 1000 people.

It also found that both men and women are at the height of habit formation between the ages of 45 and 54. During this time 75% of women formed habits as opposed to 49% of men.

According to the study, the following brands are the most habitual in their behavior and therefore most likely to buy or behave on autopilot according to the findings:

  1. Muffin Break
  2. Lean Cuisine
  3. Cotton On
  4. Decjuba
  5. Country Road
  6. Garnier
  7. Latina Fresh Pasta
  8. L’Oreal
  9. Bonds
  10. Bertocchi

Co-author of the study, Pip Stocks says, “Brands have traditionally worked on the model of ‘getting in the consideration set’.”

“However a better framework to use underpinned by this study is based on habit formation – that is, understanding those who are using your brand on autopilot where there’s regular action and engagement but an unconscious response to buying your product.”

“It represents a fundamental shift in the way brands market their products, if you’re selling a new product, you need to understand how to crack a current habit, and if you want to grow your brand you need reinforce your customers’ habit,” she says.

Stocks also uses the example of pillow brand, Tontine, branding their pillows with an expiry date, to illustrate the effectiveness of becoming part of the customers’ routine.

“This disrupted the habit of keeping pillows too long by reminding us that pillows have a shelf life and need to be replaced – just like you need to change the batteries in your smoke alarm. It’s been a successful strategy given sales have grown 20% year on year since 2010,” she says.

Dr David Neal, a psychologist specialising in consumer habits, warns that ignoring customers’ habits could be detrimental to marketers.

“This study is a powerful reminder that consumers are much less consciously engaged in many product purchase decisions than we typically assume. When marketers ignore the role of ritual, they often miss the boat in terms of influencing actual behaviour,” he says.