Business and consumer psychologist explores the trap which is our own comfort zone, and just like us as individuals, so too can brands get caught in their comfort zone.
Get out of your comfort zone fast!
Whenever we hear this saying we know that something has to be done differently if we want to move from where we are to where we want to be.
But what is a comfort zone and why do we get trapped into it?
A comfort zone is a psychological state in which we feel familiar and in control of our environment, whilst experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. It’s like a mental shelter people use to prevent discomfort that comes with facing the challenges in the real world.
Our brains are wired to develop different perceptions based on self-limiting beliefs which sometimes are separated from the actual fact, so staying in the comfort zone subconsciously seems more attractive than reaching out to overcome challenges.
Within your comfort zone, there is minimal risk for disturbing your mental security, so it’s natural to not want to move beyond it.
Natural but not necessarily desired if you are to grow and have a successful business.
So whilst the comfort zone is an easy, predictable and familiar psychological state with low anxiety levels, for high performance, people need some anxiety.
The role anxiety plays in performance happens on three levels:
Very low levels of anxiety are not challenging and lead to poor performance;
Equally, high levels of anxiety can bring so much stress and considerably reduce performance;
The most productive level is when you reach the optimal anxiety which leads to growth.
Playing safe most of the time often means that you are too risk averse and essentially slowing the brand development to such critical levels that can easily lead to a point when your brand is limping behind your competitors.
"Within your comfort zone, there is minimal risk for disturbing your mental security, so it’s natural to not want to move beyond it"
Yes, leaving the comfort zone brings discomfort and with it a resistance to change regardless of whether this resistance happens consciously or subconsciously.
Whatever you as a leader desire for your brand right now, but currently do not have, in itself signals that you are still inside your comfort zone.
But once you overcome the discomfort, what you thought was previously out of your grasp is now within reach.
However, for that you’re going to have to step outside of your comfort zone.
If you fail to do so and avoid embracing the challenges in the retail world you will most likely sabotage yourself and not just disappoint but most likely lose your customers.
Having said that, one of the main disruptors posing a challenge for retailers and brands are not so much the new technology and innovation but more importantly your customers.
It’s not a secret that today, consumers have high expectations of brands, clearly pointing towards a tailored experience, where you are expected to blend digital with physical, adding a human touch and an element of surprise and intrigue with every interaction either online or offline.
For example, there is a new segment of consumers called Gen Z who hold exceptional power to shape and create the future of your business.
They are not just very advanced when it comes to technology and innovation but also their buying decisions are predominantly driven by change, personalisation and convenience. To capture this audience, you need to balance personalized, digital methods with compelling in-store experiences to engage with these mobile-first customers.
Lack of authenticity, habit and fear of the outcome are some of the elements that might keep you in your comfort zone.
But existing within your comfort zone is a stagnant state; likely to prevent the change which you most need.
Smartphones, technology and a constant stream of innovation, has accentuated the importance of digitalisation for both online and in-store experiences.
Being comfortably uncomfortable is not an option if you want to position your brand at the top - challenge your limits because success happens outside your comfort zone!
Zana Busby is a Business & Consumer Psychologist and author of the book Life Equilibrium