ONE OF THE BEST PREDICTORS of future behavior is past behavior. Perhaps trite to some, this statement is blog-worthy because…
(1) specific behaviors reflect the relationship of a person (customer) to distinct aspects of the environment (your organization)
(2) once understood, customer behavior can be encouraged using about a dozen psychological constructs that are infrequently or incompletely used by marketers
It is as a behavioral scientist with over 20 years experience in applied behavior change that I state the above. For the moment, I guess I am saying ‘trust me’. You can draw your own conclusions at the end of this blog.
If one of the better predictors of future behavior is past behavior, then think how much better are lots of past behaviors. When understanding individuals based on lots of past behaviors, we are talking about behavioral segmentation, and ultimately behavioral profiling. There are of course several ways of segmenting your customer base. Demographic and psycho-graphic (demographic+psychological) segments are commonly used for example. And while some use behavior to segment, their efforts are oftentimes compromised by lack of understanding of how behavior can be changed.
Why Behavioral Segmentation? Assuming awareness and needs, the intention to behave in a specific way (e.g., purchase a product, join a group, attend a meeting) reflects a state of mind (the confluence of attitudes, beliefs, norms) combined with an evaluation of the barriers and facilitators to action. Behavioral scientists have found that when properly reinforced, behaviors tend to increase in frequency and change in quality. Think about the first-time customer. Over time, the first-time customer can become a sometime customer, a loyal proponent of your brand (product or company) or a former customer.
For the relationship between an individual and a brand to migrate toward loyalty, it is necessary to understand that loyalty behavior, like any other behavior, results from progression through a series of increasingly salient behaviors that are predictable and ‘marketable’. In effect, behavior progresses through ‘’stages of change’. Typically, there are five stages beginning with pre-consideration and ending with evangelism.
These stages are psychological in nature, reflecting changes in attitudes, beliefs, normative influences and barriers/facilitators to behavior. They take time. Importantly, the stages do not vary much with the type of behavior, but they must be respected. For loyalty to develop, the customer must be encouraged to step through each stage in order. Research shows that when marketers skip stages (as suggested by the above image) and ‘hurry to the sale’, customer disenchantment and loss is inevitable.
By understanding the natural processes of behavior change, marketing professionals can help potential and new customers migrate toward greater levels of brand and company loyalty.
In our next blog, we will continue this discussion to show how behavior can be profiled and a 3-5 year plan of action established based on the behavioral profiles. We’ll get to those all-important psychological change processes later.
Originally presented at the 2006 Marketing and Membership Conference of American Society for Association Executives (ASAE), Monalco Research has continued to expand and refine its original Behavioral Profiling Model. The result is a powerful behavioral segmentation model that has been shown to increase loyalty and maximize revenue while it focuses marketing efforts and minimizes related costs.