Will Day 66 Finally Confirm the Online Shopping Tipping Point?

Brandon Grosvenor wrote this on Mar 24, 2020 | 0 comments

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Feeling a bit anxious? That’s normal. Indeed, it’s become so normal, it’s not even new normal — or novel normal, as nerdy virologists like to joke.

Maybe you’re thinking, if only I had a nickel for every time I’ve recently the cliché, ‘new normal’. Or, for every time you heard some blogger say ‘This is the tipping point for people to shop online more than retail.’ You’d be rich if only you got a bitcoin each time you heard that line over the past decade.

Today is Thursday, March 19, Day 4 of the quasi-voluntary lockdown. And your friends at Brand Grow have decided to use this time to conduct an experiment.

But this time it really should be that tipping point, for two big reasons.

People change behaviours by being coerced or from sheer laziness. Combine the two and you have that other potentially wealth-generating cliché, a perfect storm.

Coercion may sound strong for Canadians but we all are being forced online by circumstances. On Monday and Tuesday, hundreds of stores shut across Canada. Yesterday, scores more stores shut across Canada.

This news is tragic for so many reasons. First, the human misery it causes the workers. Every one of your friends at Brand Grow has worked for retail advertising clients over the years and we worry for our friends who are suddenly thrown out of work.

But we’re also fascinated by what’s happening. On a macro level: as goes retail, so goes the economy. Consider: Even if you want to, suddenly you cannot shop at The Bay, Reebok, Adidas stores or thousands of others. Whoever would’ve predicted this? Are you bored at home? These stores’ online equivalents are virtually open 24/7.

So, reason #1: but for groceries and medications, you don’t have a choice.

That’s the active coercion imposed on us by society’s latest rules — aka novel normal. Until very recently many of us were happy to shop online but still preferred to buy clothes in person. We liked trying on the pants to be sure they fit.

But, as of this week, it doesn’t matter how much you prefer to try potentially new pants on before pulling your wallet from your current one, stores like Ms. Slacks and Pants R Us! aren’t considered essential services. So, they’re temporarily shut and you have to buy your pants online.

Depending on how long this home isolation lasts, their shutting may be permanent. That tasteless K-Mart ad from a few years ago was really just announcing its own expiration deadline.

#2: Laziness. On average it takes 66 days to form a habit.

Look at this study conducted in 2009 by a medical PhD candidate and published in the utterly respectable European Journal of Social Psychology.

Now, as Abraham Lincoln famously never said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” But it is interesting how elites and experts like epidemiologists and virologists are suddenly welcomed again into public discourse.

Anyway, the above 66 days oversimplifies the study’s conclusion. The study showed that repeating a behaviour daily can become a habit after anywhere between 18 and 254 days. Much depends on the activity and person. Nonetheless, the magic number they landed on was 66.

That’s our short answer-cum-prediction. If we’re all stuck inside and unable to shop at retail stores for 66 days, we’ll be conveniently forced into the habit of shopping online.

Check on us on May 6 (aka Day 66) for our experiment’s results.

In the meantime, we wish you and all those you love excellent health, safety, cheer and sanity. If you have friends or family who were suddenly thrown out of work this week, maybe invite them for a salutary walk in the park. Staying two metres apart is perfectly safe.


Submitted by: Steven Bochenek, Senior Contributor 

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