Author Charles Duhigg, who is an investigative reporter with the New York Times, says retailers have become experts at studying shoppers' habits to create marketing campaigns.
"They create marketing campaigns unique and personalized to you to take advantage of what they've learned about your habits to see if they can trigger those automatic behaviors," he said.
Duhigg says neurological studies show every habit has three components.
"There's a cue - which is like a trigger for the behavior to start unfolding - and then the automatic behavior itself, and then finally, a reward," he said. "The reward is how our brain learns to remember that pattern for the future. What companies like Target - or anyone else - does is they focus on the cues and the rewards. They understand what triggers your behavior, and what reward drives that behavior. "
Duhigg says grocers put healthy food like produce at the front of their stores to trigger the reward mechanism when a shopper passes the junk food isle later in the visit. He says once you have an item like a tomato in your cart, you are more likely to reward yourself with a box of cookies as you make your way through the store.
He says the book also focuses on the daily routine of Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps, who he says has created a series of mental habits that have lead to his success.
"Once you understand how to diagnose habits - how to diagnose those cues and rewards - you learn how to control the automatic behaviors," Duhigg said. "And once you're in control, you can change your life."
To learn more about Charles Duhigg and "The Power of Habit," visit http://charlesduhigg.com/.
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