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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

Tips for Assessing Stakeholders' Post-Pandemic Behavior: Planning Must Begin Now

After disruptive events, businesses must re-assess their plans. Following the pandemic, stakeholders’ behaviors will be "sustained" or "transformed," or they will "disappear entirely," according to Dev Patnaik, Michelle Loret de Mola, and Brady Bates, researchers on habit formation. Here are tips for creating business plans based on the new reality.

First, perform a quick assessment:

  • How do you "really make money"? Your "best" products or services may not be profitable.
  • Whom do you rely upon to "drive the business," supply chain included?
  • How will people behave after the pandemic? Which behaviors have changed permanently?

Predicting Behavior

Select an important behavior. An office supply company could select buying office supplies online instead of in-person. Then, consider the mechanics, motivators, pressures, and alternatives to past behavior.

Behavior Mechanics: Is the behavior a habit, or has it "been disrupted?" ask the authors. Behaviors that are routine [stopping at Starbucks] are likely to persist. Behaviors that occur often, but briefly [quick visits to an office supply store], are more likely to persist than occasional behaviors that take up more time, e.g., purchasing all office supplies online just twice a year.

Behavior Motivators: Behaviors that provide "significant psychological or financial benefit" are likely to persist. However, "intrinsic rewards," such as those derived from dining out with friends, can have a bigger impact than financial gain, the authors say.

Pressures on Behaviors: People respond to pressure from "the herd…. When evaluating a behavior, examine who’s telling people to keep doing it."

Alternatives to a Behavior: When people find a better behavior, they will switch if switching is not too difficult. With new technology, switching will occur if early adopters are already using the new technology [e.g., social media].

Now consider for each for the four factors above whether a particular behavior will endure:

  • Sustainable: the behavior will continue as it is part of a daily ritual; it has psychological or financial benefits; social forces encourage it; or the behavior has no good substitutes.
  • Transformed: someone or something has stopped the behavior; benefits have evaporated; messaging about the behavior is confusing; or alternatives will work with this behavior.
  • Collapsed behavior: The mechanics of the behavior are difficult or foreign; the benefits have evaporated; society looks down on the behavior; or "viable alternatives" have replaced it.

Examine the key behaviors of your customers, suppliers, and even your employees. Then, prepare for the post-pandemic reality by making plans based on research, not hunches.

Make decisions based on data, not hunches.

Copyright © 2/21 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.

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