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Better Habits Beat Grand Gestures – Thoughts on progress during a pandemic. By Paul Stanway – Co-Founder and Creative Director, XYZ

During these past few weeks I’ve found myself extoling the mantra of “Habits beat goals”, thanks to the work of James Clear who makes a compelling case for changing your focus from achieving goals to establishing daily habits that not only enable you to better identify with the kind of person you want to be, but as a consequence of enacting those habits you’ll find yourself achieving those goals as a by-product of living your best life. Highly recommended in trying times.

As such at XYZ we’ve been focused on how we can reframe what we do as a business to react to the seismic shift we are all dealing with. This means not panicking and rushing to market with something new and non-credible in an attempt to be a first mover, but working hard to understand the root of the problems we’re facing and then adapting in meaningful ways so that we’re not only helping ourselves but also our clients in the most effective ways possible. As a senior management team we’re as busy as ever, navigating the current situation in a way that challenges the business on an existential level whilst keeping our team together and motivated. I have little doubt that we are not alone in this.

“Retailers will need to work even harder to understand who their customers are, what they want to buy, and how, when and where they want to shop”

(PwC Retail Outlook 2020)

Whilst we’re working on ways to get through the present, we have a very strong eye on how to move forward when we start to come out of our current situation, in particular how purchase behaviours will have changed as result of lockdown. This coupled with the already precarious situation for physical retail mean that there’s opportunities to pay particular attention to how brands can best re-engage with consumers to demonstrate the value that physical stores are able to provide in a post-Covid world.

“80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services”

(Salesforce – Trends in integrated experiences)

This is where experiential can help – reframing bricks and mortar stores as providing not just the opportunity for purchase but also delivering a compelling reason for the consumer to make the purchase and become loyal, providing brand value over the long-term.

Finding ways to elevate consumer decision-making from purely price-based into the realm of quality and brand-informed thinking is tailor made for experiential to support. We are developing strategies and tools for retail brands through a combination of live experience design and customer experience design.  This represents an opportunity for us to not only help retail brands bounce back from this situation but also reframe what their place is in consumer behaviour for the future, so that they not just survive but thrive as a result.

We will soon be announcing the release of our Live Experience Design model – an analysis of existing experience design disciplines and how they might be used to create a brand new model that provides the basis of a potential best practice process, integrating the most applicable and appropriate elements from established design processes such as Customer Experience design, Service Design and Design Thinking (amongst others). This report is based on academic research I undertook as my final dissertation project in the MSc Innovation, Creativity and Leadership master’s degree, which I (thankfully) completed just before the world suddenly changed at the start of this year.

Returning to the words of James Clear, in all of this uncertainty try to remember that “Habits are like the atoms of our lives. Each one is a fundamental unit that contributes to your overall improvement.” So instead of beating yourself up about not achieving a ton of unrealistic goals during what is a pandemic, not a productivity contest, perhaps focus more on a smaller and more manageable positive changes that you can make each day to what you do. Results are unlikely to be quick, but they are more likely to be longer lasting and significant.