To Keep Your Customers,
108 Harvard Business Review May 2012
IllustratIon: andré da loba
They don’t want a “relationship” with you. Just help them make good choices. by Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman
May 2012 harvard business review 109
Keep It Simple
To Keep Your CuSToMerS, Keep iT SiMple
arketers see today’s consumers as web-savvy, mobileenabled data sifters who pounce on whichever brand or store offers the best deal. Brand loyalty, the thinking goes, is vanishing. In response, companies have ramped up their messaging, expecting that the more interaction and information they provide, the better the chances of holding on to these increasingly distracted ...view middle of the document...
There they find extensive technical and feature information and 360-degree rotatable product photos, all organized and sortable by model. In stores, shelf labels list key technical attributes, such as megapixel rating and memory, and provide a QR code that takes consumers to a mobile version of the brand’s website, where they can dig more deeply into product specifications. Brand B’s search engine strategy is to first understand the consumer’s intent and where in the search process she is likely to be. Why does she
110 Harvard Business Review May 2012
want a camera? Is she just starting to look, or is she ready to buy? The company guides those in the early stages of investigation to third-party review sites (where its cameras get good marks) and directs consumers who are actively shopping to its own website. User reviews and ratings are front and center there, and a navigation tool lets consumers quickly find reviews that are relevant to their intended use of the camera (family and vacation photography, nature photography, sports photography, and so on). In stores, Brand B frames technical features in nontechnical terms. Instead of emphasizing megapixels and memory, for example, it says how many high-resolution photos fit on its memory card. The QR code on shelf displays leads to a simple app that simulates one of the camera’s key differentiators, a photo-editing feature. The highly detailed information Brand A provides at every step on the purchase path may instruct the consumer about a given camera’s capabilities, but it does little to facilitate an easy decision. Brand B simplifies decision making by offering trustworthy information tailored to the consumer’s individual needs, thus helping her traverse the purchase path quickly and confidently. Our research shows that customers considering both brands are likely to be dramatically more “sticky” toward Brand B.
For a marketing organization, what does it take to acquire sticky consumers? Our study found that the best tool for measuring consumer-engagement efforts is the “decision simplicity index,” a gauge of how easy it is for consumers to gather and understand (or navigate) information about a brand, how much they can trust the information they find, and how readily they can weigh their options. The easier a brand makes the purchasedecision journey, the higher its decision-simplicity score. Brands that scored in the top quarter in our study were 86% more likely than those in the bottom quarter to be purchased by the consumers considering them. They were 9% more likely to be repurchased and 115% more likely to be recommended to others. Shifting the orientation toward decision simplicity and helping consumers confidently complete the purchase journey is a profound change, one that typically requires marketers to flex new muscles and rethink how they craft their communications. Some practical lessons can be drawn from brands that are
Making Decisions Simple
Idea in Brief...