Empty Shelves, Why Panic?

It’s NOT an ordinary day at the supermarket. 

But, this may sound all too familiar to many of us over the last few days… 

For some reason that you can’t explain, your heart is racing a little faster than usual and your breathing begins to pick up as you pull into the parking lot.  You even feel a slight tension in your muscles and you wonder what is going on with your body as though it has developed a mind of its own.

Typically, going shopping for groceries is a relaxing and enjoyable time, but this time it seems to be different.

Moving at a quick pace with the shopping cart in hand while entering the entrance, your significant other asks you “What’s the hurry, hun?”.

But you’re unable to answer because you yourself are unsure of exactly what is going on with this frantic change of pace.  So, you carry on with your significant other a few steps behind, trying to keep up with you as they scratch their head in confusion.

Aisle 1 – nope not this one.  Aisle 2 – dog food, no thanks.  Aisle 3 – Chocolates and sweets, a little better but not quite.  So, you continue to push forward pass the next few aisles, but you notice something strange as you pass each aisle.  

At aisle 1, it was only you.  But now you see several shoppers moving not only in the same direction that you’re heading in, but they too are moving at a pace that’s similarly fast just like you are.  Could they be thinking the same thing too?

Fear kicks in and you begin to feel some worrying. 

In your mind, you say to yourself “What happens if it’s no longer there?”

You don’t want to take the chance, so you turn into a guided projectile, cranking up your walking speed to turbo mode as you’re now on a mission to get to aisle 9, where your target is located.  

By now, your heart rate and breathing are accelerating as though you just came from the gym, your palms are sweating from tightly gripping onto the cart as you thrust your way in between the other shoppers to get to where you need to to go.   Looking back, your significant other is chasing you and you can hear their rapid footsteps trailing behind.

Your fear turns into anxiety as more shoppers join the stream of people making their way towards aisle 9 and you can now see a small crowd gathering just outside the aisle.

At this point, your anxiety is at an all time high as uncertainty fills your mind.

The sight of seeing everyone around you thinking and doing the same thing as you confirms that they all have the same thing on their minds as yourself.

Adrenaline levels spike.  Heart is pounding at a million miles an hour.  Breathing getting out of control. More sweating.  Muscles are tense. And finally, you even feel dizziness and you can notice yourself shaking. 

That’s when you realize PANIC HAS STRUCK! 

As your significant other catches up to you, they ask “Are we really going to die if we don’t get toilet paper?”

You turn to them and respond “I can’t imagine life without it.”

Then something magical happens as the both of you look into each other’s eyes and think the same thing “What just happened?”

So, let’s explore this mystical question:

The steps that occur to create panic can be summed up in the following 2 emotional responses to a perceived threatening situation for an individual: 

1) Fear + Uncertainty = Anxiety 

2) Social contagion + Anxiety = Panic

When panic kicks in, the neocortex – which is the logical part of the brain, turns off. 

Conditions that create panic are the feelings of loss of control, extreme worrying about the unknowns of the future, herd mentality & scarcity, all of which triggers the fight or flight response in the primal brain because the body is physically preparing to combat the perceived threatening situation since the person sees that they are in danger (even if there are no real dangers present) and that their survival, safety, and security is in jeopardy.

So, this turns off the neocortex. 

This means that instead of using the logical part of the brain to reason and plan what is the best thing to do, the primal brain takes over and makes the individual display primal survival responses that are automatic reflex reactions to the current stressful situation.  This is what causes the individual to engage in illogical behaviours, such as what you see during panic buying of toilet paper, for example.  

The cycle of panic buying is further positively reinforced as they see other people panicking, since humans look to other people and their environmental cues on how to act, especially during times of uncertainty. 

Take the Guesswork out of your marketing

Happy Buying Brain can help take your marketing to a whole new level and one of the ways is understanding what is really going on in your customer’s brain on a primal level. 

This way, you can truly understand the underlying processes that are happening inside of your customer’s mind that are heavily influencing their purchasing decisions and turn your brand into the #1 Top of Mind Choice for your consumers.

To get a quick snapshot of what these strategies would look like for your business, contact us at 780-977-2313 or felix@happybuyingbrain.com