Do Your Shoppers Face a Purchasing Dilemma? How to Give the Right Customer Choice Every Time

I’ve just come back from a week’s course in Spain organised by the European Monroe Institute. The course was on consciousness, a thing all good marketers need to develop, especially when it comes to their customers’ choices.

The reason I am referring to this course, besides the fact that it was led by the brilliant consciousness expert Arkaitz, is because we spoke about a subject that is very relevant for shopper marketing. I did in fact already touch on something similar in last week’s post. I’m speaking about decision making and the difference between Polarity, Duality, Dilemmas and Trilemmas. For clarification, these terms refer to:

Polaritythe state of having or expressing two directly opposite tendencies, opinions, etc

Dualitythe state or quality of being two or in two parts; dichotomy, the division into two parts, kinds, etc

Dilemmaa situation requiring a choice between (equally undesirable) alternatives.

Trilemmaa situation, analogous to a dilemma, in which there are three (almost equally undesirable) alternatives.

Last week I spoke about the Trilemma as it relates to project work; in this post I want to review the different situations in which we oblige our shoppers to make customer choices and how we can make it a lot easier for them.

 

Customer Decision-making

Mark ZHow many decisions do you make in an average day? Tens, hundreds, thous ands, even more? It has been estimated that an adult makes in excess of 30,000 decisions each and every day. (>>Tweet this<<) From what to have for breakfast, to what to wear and the route we take to work, we are constantly making decisions. However, have you noticed that when you need to make a decision, having more choices is not always better? More choice can in fact make decision-making all the more difficult.

In a recent article about Mark Zuckerberg, it was mentioned that he, as did Steve Jobs, wears the same clothes every day. A sort of uniform that enables him to make one less decision that he considers to be less relevant and unimportant to the success of his business. In the post he reveals that he wears the same clothes over and over again, because he wants to limit the time he spends making “frivolous” decisions, so he can concentrate on real work. As he says:

“I really want to clear my life so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community. I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life, so that way I can dedicate all of my energy towards just building the best products and services.”

Retail Decision-making

It has been proven that shoppers can end up leaving a retail outlet or online e-shop without making a purchase, when faced with too much choice. (>>Tweet this<<) This so-called “choice overload” was first mentioned in the book  The Paradox of Choice, by Swarthmore College professor Barry Schwartz.

Schwartz co-authored a study that supported his theory in the context of Web search  and other research has documented choice overload in contexts as wide ranging as gourmet chocolates  and retirement plans.

Choice overload is also one of the major reasons, besides price, for the success of hard discounters. They take away those “frivolous” but hard decisions we usually have to make whilst out shopping, by offering just one or at most two br ands or sizes of each article. We then have to make the choice between buying one of the two on offer, or purchasing neither (a trilemma). If you have the time, you might then go elsewhere to buy what you were looking for, but if the choice is of lesser importance or we are lacking the time, we will accept the limited choice and buy one of the two on offer (a dilemma).

Therefore choice is not always a good thing. So what can you as a marketer do to help the customer make the “right” decision in favour of your br and?

 

Know your Customers

The 4 Ws of customer underst anding

If you’re a regular here, you will know that everything you do should start with the customer and from the customer’s perspective. Underst anding their needs and desires, both stated and unstated, will enable you to better meet them. A satisfied customer is unlikely to spend time in choice and will automatically go for your product or service. You can read more about getting a deeper underst anding of your customer in another post entitled “How Well do you Know your Customers? Can you Answer these 12 Questions?” here. 

Portfolio Management

Many retailers and some consumer packaged goods companies have noticed that consumers today are suffering from “choice overload”.

Unilever LogoBoth P&G and Unilever have done some radical pruning of their br ands over the years. They have understood that most of their business comes from just a small number of all its products. P&G has around 300 br ands today, a third less than just a decade ago. Unilever has been even more ruthless. Since introducing its “ Path to Growth” initiative almost fifteen years ago, the number of its br ands has been culled from 1,600 down to just 400.

Retail organisations too are no longer willing to offer increased space for ever-exp anding br and portfolios. They often use the “one in, one out” rule and need strong evidence to add a new line from manufacturers. This has been especially true in recent years with the increase in the number of supermarket chains offering smaller, urban outlets, such as Tesco’s Metro and Walmart’s Express. You can read more about current retail trends here.

Walmart LogoWhat both retailers and manufacturers have realised is that Pareto’s Principle is highly relevant to the success of their businesses. The “Pareto Principle” or 80-20 rule, helps a lot in reducing the number of trilemma (or worse) type decisions that shoppers are faced with.

It therefore makes a lot of sense to regularly review your own portfolio and cut the “long tail” of slowest movers. Unless you have recently launched it or have a solid recovery plan in the pipeline, it is better to delete them.

 

Product Display

Another very good reason for reducing the numbers of br ands and variants in portfolios has to do with innovation. Today’s consumers thrive on novelty and constantly dem and new products and services. They quickly become bored or are satisfied for far less time than in the past.

In response to this, many companies have increased their level of innovation and new launches. However, neither retailers nor consumers want an ever increasing choice of products to sell or purchase. Therefore it makes good sense to have a “one in, one out” policy as mentioned above.

Identifying the best products and variants to put on shelf at each retail outlet or at a minimum by region, will enable customers to make those all important choices more quickly and easily. You will make the sale and the retailer will not be faced with stock that sits on their shelves, not moving; a definite win-win-win. (>>Tweet this<<)

Coming back to the issue of polarity, duality, dilemmas and trilemmas, I hope you can see that the situation in which a customer finds him/herself at the point of sale, whether they are facing a dilemma, trilemma or worse, will have a huge impact on whether or not they purchase.

Do you have something to add to this article and the customer choices we offer when they are faced with making a purchase decision? Please add a comment below. And if you enjoyed the post, then please share it with your friends and colleagues, so they too can be inspired.

If you would like support in reviewing your br and portfolio to identify the 20% of br ands and variants that may need to be deleted, contact me here and let’s discuss your situation. I know I can help.

C³Centricity used images from Microsoft, Unilever and Walmart in this post.

Great Customer Satisfaction in 3 Easy Lessons

The latest Customer Experience Survey run in the US at the end of last year by McKinsey shows that Americans are generally more satisfied with their experiences today than pre-recession, although this can in part be attributed to rising consumer confidence. 

The article concludes that happier customers have a higher lifetime value  for a company and highlights several areas for businesses to consider in order to increase satisfaction.

After reading the report I was inspired to take their ideas and exp and them into three lessons that could guarantee increased customer satisfaction for all organisations. This is what I came up with:

Consistency boosts satisfaction

The article refers to consistency across contact channels, but I believe it goes much further than that. Customers need to underst and what we are offering in order to find it a – hopefully regular – place in their lives. If we frequently change packaging, distribution channels or communications from one year to the next, as often follows management restructuring, they can become destabilised.

They will then be forced to work, evaluating how these changes impact their current habits and perceptions of the br and. As we are all creatures of habit, living on auto-pilot in many areas of our lives for much of the time, changes force us to reconsider our choices, which can perhaps lead to the decision that the offering no longer has a place in our lives.

Lesson 1: remain consistent to the br and equity and personality that should have been clearly defined, in every way the br and interacts with its customers.

You can’t control everything

Customer confidence and satisfaction are said to be closely linked, especially in transactional industries such as airlines, hotels and retail. Whilst this may be true, I believe that br ands have an essential role to play in giving customers the confidence they need that they have made the best choice. What a br and st ands for in the hearts and minds of its audience can be influenced and thus we do have control over the confidence our customers have in the product or services we offer.

If we do not meet their expectations every time, again they may start to re-evaluate their choices and could decide to switch supplier. Br ands give customers confidence in the choices they make, as well as a guaranteed level of quality and reliability, but this needs to be reconfirmed every time they experience  it.

Lesson 2: control everything that can be controlled to ensure that your customers’ experience is of the highest level possible, and every single time, of course

Know what matters

P&G are well known for speaking about the first and second moments of truth; the first being when a shopper sees the product “on the shelf” and the second being when the product is actually experienced. With the rise of the internet and the use of search engines, many br and interactions are now taking place between a customer and a br and long before the product is ever seen or experienced; Google has named this the “Zero Moment of Truth”.

All these moments of truth are important to underst and along the path to consumption, but more important still, is their relevance for each consumer when making decisions about which br and to choose. Every experience with a br and builds towards that final, or repeated, decision and any interaction can negatively impact the decision if the customer is not totally satisfied.

Lesson 3: don’t assume all your customers are the same, even if they have been chosen following category segmentation. Ensure that you get to know them well enough to underst and what are their preferred choices along their journey and which steps are the most important for them to be satisfied.

To sum up the findings of the survey, experience impacts every br and and category choice a person makes, whether positively or negatively. Perhaps one of the most important challenges that marketers must face, is that whereas it can take many positive interactions for a customer to finally make the choice to purchase a br and, it may take just one negative experience to make them forget the br and or worse to eliminate it from their consideration set forever.

With the never-ending increase in choices that most customers face today, it is the whole br and decision journey that needs to be considered when looking to satisfy them. That is the only way to guarantee complete customer satisfaction.

Which is the most defining moment for your category to get right, zero, first, second, or somewhere else along your customer journey? Please share your experiences here.

For more information on connecting to your customers, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage

C³Centricity uses images from Dreamstime.com

Post Navigator Supported By WordPress Navigator Plugin
Send this to a friend