Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Marketing and Branding–When Less Is More: Harvard Business Journal Study Shows Importance of "Decision Simplicity"

Two issues (one belief, one fact) with marketing today:

Belief:  Customers are less brand loyal.

Fact:  With the internet, mobile, and social media, there are many more ways for brands to interact with consumers.

What if exploiting the fact is creating a vicious cycle that is making the belief more true?  That just might be what's happening today.

According to a 2012 Harvard Business Journal study entitled "To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple",  the increase in marketing messages "isn’t empowering—it’s overwhelming. Rather than pulling customers into the fold, marketers are pushing them away with relentless and ill-conceived efforts to engage."

The authors analyzed surveys and interview with thousands of consumers and hundreds of marketing experts to figure out what makes consumers "sticky"–i.e. "likely to follow through on an intended purchase, buy the product repeatedly, and recommend it to others."

The authors looked at over 40 variables, including pricing, brand perceptions, etc. and concluded that the biggest driver of stickiness was "decision simplicity".

Decision simplicity has three parts:

1. Ease of gathering information.  Ideally web navigation will figure out where the consumer is in the buying decision, and only show him info relevant to the stage he or she is at.

2. Easy to determine trust.  The best way is by giving access to user-generated reviews.  Consumers put a lot of weight over peer reviews, versus expert, celebrity, or technical  information.

3. Ease of comparison.  It should be easy to see side-by-side comparisons and trade-offs between different products and options.

Decision simplicity is one of the four types of strategic simplicity that I assist clients with.