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  The Herman Trend Alert

June 19, 2002

The Purchasing Reluctance Cycle

If you expect it, it will happen. It's called expectancy theory. Humans respond to stimuli from credible outside sources and behave accordingly. The stimuli are usually more emotional than logical, but can seem logical enough that we believe that maybe there's something to the possibility.

We've seen all sorts of examples of expectancy theory throughout history. And we've seen how one person's behavior or attitude can affect many others. A classic example of this situation is the fellow standing on the city street corner looking up. Someone else comes along, sees the man looking up at something-he doesn't know what-and also looks up. A third person, seeing them both, also looks up to see what's so interesting. Before long a crowd has gathered, yet no one really has any idea what they're looking at. The first man could even walk away now and leave a group of people staring into the sky. Behavior is contagious.

Have you noticed how others smile when you do? When you're cheerful, others pick up on your mood and their attitude is affected. Conversely, when you are glum, that attitude is also infectious.

This expectancy theory is actively influencing our economy today-in the United States and in other countries. In our research, and in our talking with people in many walks of life, we have sensed a common reluctance to take action in making capital investments. Business leaders acknowledge that the economy is improving; they are encouraged by the statistics they see. However, because of stock market fluctuations, uncertain international political news, and a general reluctance among their customers, many business leaders are hesitant to commit to purchases. Because they are not committing to purchasing, their suppliers are hesitant to make buying or growth decisions.

To break out of this expectancy and shared attitude cycle, some companies must begin placing more firm orders with their suppliers. As inventories continue to shrink from consumer spending, manufacturers and distributors will be re-energized. Purchases of services such as computer upgrades, consulting, training, and employee relocation will also stimulate the market and break the reluctance cycle.


© Copyright 1998- by The Herman Group, Inc. -- reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or http://www.hermangroup.com. To sign up, visit http://www.HermanTrendAlert.com. The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc."

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