The Coping Cycle: Understanding your brand by understanding your consumers

I remembered having a conversation with one of my clients before, and an insightful analysis of how consumers react to brands are closely similar to how humans react when they are faced with immediate changes. When people are faced with changes, they generally react in three separate manner; positive, negative and neutral. I might delve a little more into these reactions on my future posts, but for now I really wanted to share the possible cycles and phrases people go through when information is communicated across to them. Note that this is taking into account that the communication message is already successfully communicated into the minds of the consumers.


Here is an image of Carnall (2009) Coping Cycle. It is taken from here:



The introduction of a product through different means or channels generally communicates information to the consumers and is akin to Carnall’s Coping Cycle. Except that his was done for identifying employee’s reaction to organizational changes. In our context, regardless if the information is engaging or mutually dependent, the phrases in the Coping Cycle where consumers experience are not in random sequence and individualistic.

Phrase 1: A new change usually experiences some level of resistance. UNLESS, the idea has some level of acceptance and value which benefits the consumers. In this case, positive feedbacks becomes a possible scenario. People will also be more forgiving to the new change. Brands typically fail to understand that product changes must resonate with the consumers by identifying and solving through the perspective of consumers. Because that adds value to them.

Phrase 2: As long as brands remain adamant on changes, consumers can sometimes succumb to these changes. As long as they are relevant and would benefit them in the long haul, such changes are deemed as innovations and improvements. Therefore, propensity of consumers to embrace becomes generally very high. Nike+, a really good program that aims to benefit consumers by tracking their exercise regimes while encouraging healthy competitions between peers, is a highly successful example.

Phrase 3: Changes can be extremely daunting for your consumers. It really depends on the level of complexity. New product launches might seem beneficial from the company’s perspective, but in reality it might prove to be challenging or perplexing for your endearing customers. Take for example, GongCha, a bubble tea shop in Singapore, have the system of using a numbering system. While idea of waiting for your number from the flashing buzzer is deem as an efficient queueing system, consumers do not appreciate the idea of buying tea so similar to consulting a doctor.

Phrase 4: Have patience. Give your consumers some time to adapt to your new product or service. Even if it is changes that is being introduced, time is required for people to adapt and react. Humans are very adaptable beings. We make sure we get the hang of it all the time. However, the time required does varies a lot before one is adept at what the new changes.

Phrase 5: This becomes a very crucial phrase. As the consumers begin to internalize the new changes, they start to fine tune their lifestyle to suit these means. They began to make personalized tweaks to incorporate these changes to their daily routines. So long as the change adds value to their routine, it will be cherished. An example for Apple to completely remove dvd players and other essentials for their new Mac Books and Mac Book Air is one example of removing ‘essentials’ away. Because, these essentials are slowly fading off and their usage had become questionable.

Brands must understand that for consumers to accept your changes, you need to understand the flow and anticipate possible reactions. Remember, always add value in whatever you do. Because people tend to nurture their love and passion beyond reason, most of the times.


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