When you wake up in the morning what do you do? Do you immediately jump in the shower to start your day feeling clean of yesterday’s problems? Or do you feel the need to immediately make your bed as tidy as possible? Whatever it is you do, do you ever question why you feel the need to do so? Well, I will tell you why. You need a routine to feel in control of your life.

According to branding expert and neuro-marketing consultant, Martin Lindstrom,

“Rituals and Superstitions are defined as not entirely rational actions and the belief that one can somehow manipulate the future by engaging in certain behaviors, in spite of the fact there’s no discernible causal relationship between the behavior and its outcome.”

When you have a routine that you act out every day, you feel as though you have control over every aspect of your life. You know that you have showered, that you brushed your teeth, that you have eaten, and that when you get home your bed is made and you can relax. It is when we break our routine that we feel we have lost control of our day. Getting out of routine sometimes happens when life doesn’t go as planned. For example, when you get sick and you have to skip the gym or you have to call out of work. This causes an imbalance in your life and is a huge stress factor for most people. These rituals become even more important to us during times of crisis or fear. In fact, studies have shown that there is a significantly higher rate of superstitious beliefs in countries that have been attacked in the act of war.

Did you pick up that penny that was on heads and put it in your shoe? How about that ladder you refused to walk under while walking to lunch? Oh look it’s 11:11, hurry make a wish! Whether we like to admit it or not, all of us are a bit superstitious. In a nine-month extensive research project, worldwide advertising agency BBDO sought to better understand such superstitious behavior and how consumers incorporate brands into their daily routines. Such brands are labeled as “fortress brands” and may include the toothpaste you use or the coffee brand you prefer every morning. The research project was conducted in 26 countries and included interviews with over 5,000 participants including psychologist, sociologists, and even nutritionists. BBDO defined rituals as “a defined series of actions that move people emotionally from one place to another. Rituals are sequences that are developed over time. Rituals make people feel good. While there may be bad habits, there are no bad rituals.”

During the study BBDO focused on the five most common rituals among people all over the world. Those rituals are as follows:

Preparing for Battle: Transforming us from the cocoon to “ready to face the day.”


Feasting: The pleasure of eating that “reunites us with our tribes, transforming us from alone to connected.”


Sexing Up: A highly pleasurable and indulgent ritual, though not without stress (particularly for women), that transforms us from our everyday selves to our most fabulous selves


Returning to Camp: That moment when we unwind and exhale, transforming us from tense to relaxed.


Protecting Yourself for the Future: That last ritual of the day that moves us from relaxed to feeling safe and secure before the next day comes around.


The study concluded that Preparing for Battle has the most opportunity for brands to become fortress brands and most morning routines averaged more than 7 steps in less than 1 hour. 89% of people rely on the same brands when preparing for battle and 75% of those people became frustrated or angry when their brand was not available. The U.S. was the most brand loyal out of the 26 countries with a 94% brand loyalty rate.

So what does this say about you? Are you specific about your daily routines and the brands you use to help you gain that sense of security in your life? How much are you willing to pay for such brands and how impactful is your switching costs? While having a daily routine is very beneficial for your mental health, it is important to be mindful of when seeking control of our lives through said routines that we don’t lose control of our decision making process. Stop and question why you do every step of your daily routine and reevaluate each step to be sure you are still benefitting from it.


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