Imagine that you have a habit of buying chocolate chip cookies every day. If so, you will gain about four kilograms soon. I made a promise several times a day to break my habit, and I put a post-it in front of the monitor that said, “No more cookies!” But every day, I’m tempted by cookies. Why are bad habits so hard to break?
This habit was actually the custom of Charles Duhig, who wrote this book. He is a former Harvard Business School (MBA) and a star reporter for the New York Times, who won almost all the awards that American journalists could receive. He says it was really hard to break the habit of buying cookies every afternoon. So I began to cover the secrets of habit to find out why it was so powerful and how to change it easily.
He studied 700 academic papers, private research conducted by dozens of multinational corporations, and interviewed 300 scientists and managers. In the process, it was found that habits had a great influence beyond personal life to organizations, businesses, and society. The book drew attention from the U.S. publishing community even before its publication, and after its publication, it was spotlighted by all U.S. media. media. Paper books, e-books, and audio books ranked first, second, and third in the economic management field side by side on the Internet bookstore Amazon, which also gained sensational popularity.
How did the supermarket know about a high school girl’s pregnancy that their parents and friends didn’t know about?
At a store in Target, the fifth largest discount store in the United States, a man asked to let him meet the manager. He was holding the mail ad that the target had sent him, and he looked very angry.
“Does it make sense to send a discount coupon to my high school daughter to buy baby clothes and cribs?”
When the manager looked at the mail, it contained maternity clothes and baby furniture advertisements sent to the male customer’s daughter. The manager apologized to the man and apologized again. A few days later, the manager called again to apologize. But the man said in an awkward voice:
“I talked to my daughter. The baby is due in August. I’m so sorry to have caused you so much trouble.”
How did the target know the high school girl’s secret? Pregnant women tend to purchase a large amount of unscented lotion from the fourth month of pregnancy. And at 20 weeks of pregnancy, many pregnant women take nutritional supplements such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
Targets are growing rapidly by accurately predicting consumer patterns through sophisticated habit analysis programs and establishing marketing strategies accordingly. They can guess whether they are pregnant consumers, buying gifts for pregnant friends, or even months of pregnancy. The information is cleverly used so that consumers have no choice but to stop by the target again. Not only targets, but also McDonald’s, Microsoft, Walmart, and Victoria’s Secret are studying every move in consumers’ lives. In other words, we are taking money out of our wallets by using our habits while making sure that we are not aware of it at all.
How did toothpaste, which only 7 percent of Americans used, become a necessity for people around the world?
During World War I, the U.S. military was troubled by the serious impact of the soldiers’ dental health on their combat capabilities. At that time, few people brushed their teeth. Claude Hopkins, a legendary American advertisement commissioned to advertise Pepsodant toothpaste, has advertised that brushing teeth with Pepsodant removes the toothache that feels like a tongue and can have white teeth. Tooth decay is a thin film that is naturally formed in the teeth regardless of what you eat or how often you brush your teeth. In fact, it had little to do with white people, as it disappeared just by rubbing teeth with fingers or rinsing with water. Anyway, the ad was a big success, and for the next 30 years, Pepsodant reigned as the world’s most popular toothpaste. However, the real reason Pepsodant succeeded was not because of the advertisement. Pepsodant used an additive that gave a refreshing feeling after brushing teeth. The foam when brushing teeth and the pungent feeling after brushing them played a leading role in forming the habit of brushing teeth. The toothbrushing population, which was only 6 percent before the Pepsodant campaign, has risen to 60 percent since advertising. Foam in toothpaste, shampoo, and detergent has nothing to do with cleaning power. It is only used to tame us so that bubbles can make us feel clean.
Until Febreeze, the worst failure in P&G’s history, became a product of hundreds of billions of dollars in annual sales.
Pebries, made of materials accidentally discovered by a researcher at P&G, the world’s No. 1 consumer goods company, including Gillette Razor, Pringles potato chips, and Duracell batteries, has been highly anticipated by the company since its launch. However, despite the large-scale marketing, the initial response was poor. People didn’t feel the need for this product. The marketing team scrutinized the consumer data they collected. People didn’t use Febreeze to get rid of bad smells. Instead, it was used to give a fragrant smell after cleaning or washing. The Febreeze marketing team realized that people wanted a scent (reward) after cleaning or washing, and it was able to modify all strategies and lead to a dramatic reversal. It was a long time after Febreeze advertised the removal of bad smells.
How did Starbucks make a troublemaker employee the best employee in a year?
When Starbucks was just starting to grow, executives realized that employees’ self-control was very important and wondered how to educate them. Customers who pay 5,000 won or 6,000 won for a cup of coffee want to be treated well and expect the best service. In order to make employees’ self-control a habit, they developed and trained the ‘Latte method’ so that repetitive behavior in response to specific signals (customers’ harsh expressions of dissatisfaction) can become a habit. Then, they were able to instill self-control in hot-tempered employees who shouted “get out” at customers’ harsh demands. They discovered how to make willpower a habit, greatly increasing customer satisfaction and employee concentration. So far, a total of 1 million employees have been to Starbucks in the U.S., and 140,000 are currently employed. In a sense, Starbucks is the best educational institution in the United States.
All of this is the power of habit.
What do these stories have in common? We have succeeded by focusing on a pattern that affects every part of our lives. That pattern is just a habit. Habits refer to unconscious and repetitive actions or thoughts. Many everyday behaviors, such as driving a car, looking into a cell phone, checking e-mail, and buying coffee, are not the actions we consciously choose to do, but the products of habits. Habits allow our brains to save energy and use our brains for more productive work. According to a recent study, 40% of all behavior is determined by habit. Each habit itself means little in itself, but what you eat every day, what you say to your children every night, how often you save, how often you exercise, and how you organize your thoughts and routines have a huge impact on health, productivity, economic stability and happiness. The problem is that the brain cannot distinguish between bad and good habits.
Why do we repeat the same thing when we know we’ll regret it?
What should I do to change it?
In order to rule a habit, you must first know it. In fact, all habits existing in the world, such as oversleeping, shopping, late-night snacks, smoking, and drinking, are formed through a three-step process.
Signal – Repeated Action – Reward
First, there is a signal. It’s like a trigger that automatically triggers certain actions such as place, time, and people together. In the case of Charles Duhig, the temptation of cookies always came between 3:00 and 3:30. A particular time was a sign of habit.
In the next step, repetitive behavior appears. The author wanted to eat cookies at around 3:30, so he took the elevator to a cafe on the 14th floor of the New York Times building, bought cookies, and chatted with his colleagues.
The final step is compensation. Compensation is the strongest cause of habit formation. The author says it was not easy to find out what rewards the habit of eating cookies gives. So I tried this and that experiment. When I wanted to eat cookies, I went around the neighborhood instead of going to a cafe, tried chocolate instead of cookies, and chatted with my colleagues without eating anything. As a result, his habits had nothing to do with cookies. The truth is that I wanted to get along with people.
Finding out the signals, repetitions, and rewards, he redesigned his habits. At about 3:30, I get up, look around the office, and when I see a friend, I go there and chat for 10 minutes before returning. It changed only the repetitive behavior while leaving the signals and rewards intact. Thanks to this, the temptation of cookies completely disappeared and new behavior became a habit. Thanks to him, he lost four kilograms and his wife’s nagging disappeared. As long as you can accurately grasp the habits, you can change yourself as much as you want.
However, habits do not change only personal life. Habits are powerful enough to affect groups, organizations, businesses, and society as a whole.
Core Habits: Everything changes on its own with just one change.
The first time he witnessed the amazing power of habit was in 2000 when he stayed in Iraq as a war correspondent. At that time, I heard a groundbreaking story of a U.S. military officer who peacefully disbanded demonstrators in Kupa, 150 kilometers from Baghdad. He asked Mayor Kupa to withdraw all street vendors from the square in front of the mosque, where violent protests take place. The square was always crowded with people, and at the instigation of someone, the crowd easily turned into angry demonstrators. However, the crowd’s cohesion weakened noticeably after the street vendors were withdrawn. The hungry simple participants returned home early, and no matter how noisy the agitators were, people did not gather well.