When was the last time you did something new? Or went somewhere new? Or ate something new? Are you a creature of habit and routine, or are you someone who likes to seek out new adventures?
Many of the people who influence and control our lives at the moment, are talking about the need to develop good routines – establish a morning routine, go to the gym three times a week, post consistently on social media, you know the list…and it is long!
However, as much as there is evidence to support some of these habitual behaviours, we also have a need to mix things up from time to time.
It appears that many animals (not just humans) are naturally curious and attracted to new things in their environment. We are also attracted towards doing new things, despite the obvious risks this ‘seeking-out’ behaviour brings. So why do we engage in such potentially dangerous acts?
Maybe it is better to ask the question the other way round. What would happen if we didn’t engage in it? For a start, we wouldn’t learn or progress very much. We would never venture out to see what the world was like, what other creatures are in it and what other food sources we may be able to secure. Indeed, if you think about young babies and children, they are highly curious and keen to explore anything new in their environment. This supports the theory that some ‘novelty drive’ is built into us.
This is further reinforced when you look at what is going on within the brain when we encounter new and novel things – dopamine gets released. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is usually associated with anticipating rewarding experiences and things we find pleasant. We like the way it makes us feel, so we seek out more of the behaviour which produced it. Therefore, the fact that new stimuli trigger dopamine release (and activate the key areas of our brains which relate to pleasure and reward) again shows us how important they are to our development and survival.
What does this mean for marketers?
In terms of marketing, the application of novelty has yet more benefits to offer. The presence of something new attracts our attention, which is a good start. However, crucially it also helps us to remember things. So potentially, our brands not only get noticed, but also remembered. This was one of the challenges we all endured during the pandemic lockdowns – the lack of stimulation and novelty meant we lost track of time, couldn’t remember things very well and found it hard to focus. Remember?
So, how can we apply novelty? Well, we need to be careful. We do not want to undo or undermine all the value and associations people have with our brand. But we can certainly stand out from our competitors. Let’s do things differently and moving away from what is expected and ‘normal’ in our sector. I mean, even placing the word ‘new’ on a product or across a piece of content has tremendous power over us.
So, the next time you are working on some creative – try doing something really quite different.
You know you want to…