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  • Nick Bauer


Updated: Jul 5, 2022

  • The constant throughout the pandemic has been businesses seeking stability and attempting to estimate what behaviours will stay the same, evolve or change forever.

  • Whilst behaviours during COVID are fiendishly difficult to predict, frameworks from behavioural science can help reduce the volatility of future forecasts.

  • Marketers can ask themselves five behavioural questions to determine whether a new behaviour is likely to remain post COVID restrictions.

Early in the pandemic, the phrase 'post covid' was used to describe the moment when our world would return to what we knew in 2019. This phrase now seems hilariously out-of-date as we move into our third pandemic year. Instead, most now use the mantra 'living with COVID' to describe our new world order.

In this volatile ‘living with’ period, markets seek stability. Businesses are tasked with the near-on impossible job of estimating which consumer behaviours brought on by the pandemic will stay the same, evolve or change forever. Models that use past behaviour to predict future behaviour struggle when the past looks nothing like the present. But when complexity is overwhelming and disorienting, clarity often lies in the fundamentals.

A helpful fundamental framework for predicting behaviour change is B.J. Fogg's, which uses motivation, ability/ease and triggers, to predict the likelihood of behaviour change. With B.J. Fogg's model in mind, here are five questions we can ask to determine a behaviour's stickiness:

1. What do people need and why? (Trigger)

2. What did people do previously to fulfil the need?

3. What do people do now?

4. What do people like & dislike about the new behaviour vs. the old behaviour? (Motivation)

5. What were the barriers pre & post-crisis? (Ease/Ability)

Let's apply this framework to the hypothetical situation of interstate business meetings.

1. What do people need and why?

A monthly team meeting with interstate colleagues to discuss key business developments and updates.

2. What did people do previously to fulfil the need?

Before: Conduct a monthly team meeting face-to-face in the interstate head office.

3. What do people do now?

Now: Conduct the monthly team meeting via a Zoom video conference.

4. What do people like and dislike versus the old behaviour?

Likes: cheaper, greater agility, less travel time, less tired & more time with family

Dislikes: No face-to-face, less personal, no email downtime, no airline points.

We see that people like several things about substituting an interstate F2F meeting with a Zoom meeting: it is cheaper, more agile, and less exhausting, but there are also things they don't like: no F2F contact and the lack of airline points.

The subjective part of question four is to determine which of the likes/ dislikes are most important to a person. I would say in this case, the likes outweigh dislikes (particularly if the CFO is approving the airline ticket).

It begs the question, why weren't people using a video conference pre-crisis? The answer most likely lies in the seemingly insurmountable barriers that existed pre-crisis. But is this still the case? Which brings us to question five.

5. What were the barriers pre & post-crisis?



​Don’t feel like you can have the same level of interaction via VC

Still exists to a degree, but have become much more comfortable

Don’t feel comfortable on camera

After 18 months on camera it feels like a normal meeting

​Didn’t have the technology installed on all PCs

No longer an issue

​My boss likes all meetings to take place F2F

My boss is now comfortable with the technology

The example above illustrates that many of the old barriers have been reduced or removed altogether, making the new behaviour easier. In combination, there are many new benefits gained by doing this new behaviour, making this new behaviour more motivating.

When a new behaviour is both easier & more motivating than the previous behaviour, the new behaviour is likely to become the new status quo.

As the forced COVID-19 restrictions start to slowly relax, some behaviours will revert to the pre-crisis norm as the old barriers return. But some behaviours will never return. It will upend entire industries, whilst providing a once in a 100-year opportunity for brands to innovate and leapfrog the competition with greater behavioural understanding.


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