Negotiation Insights

A resource of quick tips and analysis of highly effective, real life negotiation strategies.

Identity needs: Tobacco now a nobody

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to lose the ability to promote a brand or make a purchase that reflects your identity needs?

For Australian tobacco manufacturers and smokers, this became the reality, when in 2014 the Australian government passed legislation requiring all cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging.

As a result consumers lost the ability both to differentiate products visually, and also to buy a brand that reflected how they wanted to be seen, namely their identity needs. For example a male teenager who wants to be associated with Marlboro cigarettes and the rugged American male cowboy image, can now only purchase tobacco products in packaging that highlights health risks.

Why do individuals’ identity needs matter to negotiators? Individuals behave and make decisions in ways that build and maintain the image they want to project. In addition, when less skilled negotiators overlook someone’s identity needs, they risk becoming deadlocked on the wrong issues, grant unnecessary concessions and prevent new value from being unlocked.

Can behaviour change when you deprive someone of the ability to reflect their identity needs? When it comes to smoking, plain packaging, increased costs, and more restrictive laws about where smokers can light up, all become contributing factors to changing behaviour. Research from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows fewer teenagers are taking up smoking, with the proportion who have never smoked more than 100 cigarettes rising from 95% in 2013 to 98% in 2016.

Quick tips – Why identity needs matter

  • They are a guide for decision making
  • They motivate individuals to have the courage and commitment to challenge and make personal sacrifices
  • They are founded in values that reveal attitudes and affect behaviour
  • They influence the way we solve problems and interpret information