What Do Your Customers Really, Really Want?
Have you ever tried to buy a laptop these days? The number of brands available, plus the hundreds of models for each brand – phew, it’s not an easy task. The specifications are about the same (the list is a mile long), not everyone understands what each component is for and the hundreds of models differ by only 1 or 2 features and by a small price range. I went in the laptop-buying decision process, and came out much worse for wear.
For market share purposes, sometimes it is necessary to have a never ending array of product models and varieties. I don’t mind the choices, actually. What I want is some way of helping me choose the best laptop for my needs, and not just select the ‘best selling model’ pitched to me, which may not even suit my needs.
Harvard Business Review detailed a study to discover the factors that made consumers ‘sticky’ – how likely they are to follow through on an intended purchase, buy the product repeatedly and recommend it to others. The study found that simplicity was the key to getting consumers to buy and buy more frequently. What consumers really, really want is simply, simplicity.
Simplicity means making it easy for consumers to trust the information gathered, learn about the product and evaluate confidently. This makes it easier for them to make decisions and keeps them coming back.
Your business is most likely doing the opposite of simplicity. There could be numerous product varieties with a team looking after each brand. You could have done the social media thing and provided tons of information to whoever that cares enough to ‘friend’ and ‘follow’ you. Your website or brochure is most likely crammed with yet more technical information and industry jargon so that your consumers can make an informed decision.
The goal of understanding the purchase decision journey is to make it simpler for consumers to buy. According to the study, brands that scored the highest in the decision-simplicity score are 9% more likely to be repurchased and 115% more likely to be recommended to others. Now, isn’t that the Holy Grail of marketing?
So what does this mean for you?
It means you can use these three effective marketing tactics:
Minimize the number of touchpoints on the way to making the purchase decision. Learn how consumers buy and what paths they take, and then give them the most relevant information at each stage. When the consumer is just browsing around at a car event, perhaps reviews and recommendations would include or increase the brand in the consumer mindset. If the consumer is seriously evaluating Dell vs IBM laptops, then information from your laptop community would be helpful.
How then to get consumers to trust the information provided? By being as transparent as possible. Do not insist on only positive reviews (consumers can smell a con job a mile away!). If your target market is the working mom, perhaps get prominent working moms to give an honest review your car. Your consumers can relate to her lifestyle and can see how your laptop fits their lifestyle too.
Make it easy to evaluate. Heaping on even more technical specs and key benefits isn’t going to help here. What it actually means is that you need to convince consumers that you are the right choice. The higher the price, the the more research is done, the more complicated the decision process and more conviction is needed. So make it easy for consumers to choose by being smarter in how you organize your product range. Better yet, remember their preferences so consumers don’t have to go through the entire process each time.
A major peeve of mine is how products are almost always arranged by model on company websites. Thing is, I don’t buy according to the product model, I buy according to my need. Do not expect the consumer to do the extra work of translating product feature into consumer benefit and then evaluate whether the benefit fits her need. She would have left you before the second page.
The brand that makes it the simplest to decide, wins the consumer.
Julia is the Executive Director of Brand 360 Degree Sdn Bhd and is currently still shopping around for a laptop that makes sense to her.