Surprise! Online buyers don’t necessarily want to “engage” with a favorite brand. And they will switch favorites in a hurry to the brand that makes the buying decision easier. That according to research and advisory services firm Corporate Executive Board (CEB). CEB has found that consumers feel overwhelmed with information and usually want want less of it (including marketing messages). Brands that help consumers simplify the purchase journey have customers who are 86% more likely to purchase their products and 115% more likely to recommend their brand to others.
In a study of 7,000 consumers and marketing executives representing 125 consumer brands across 12 industries, CEB identified a significant disconnect between current marketing strategies, including customer engagement, and preferred consumer buying behavior. While most marketers are behaving as if the majority of consumers are open to having a relationship with their brand, CEB found only 20% of consumers report being open to such relationships. As a result, today's marketing tactics are making customers less loyal and resulting in lost revenue for companies.
"Our research indicates that the impact of simplifying purchase decisions for consumers is four times stronger than the favored marketing strategy of engagement and is the number one driver of likelihood to buy," said Patrick Spenner, managing director at CEB. "Too much choice and information causes customers to over-think purchase decisions, making them more likely to change their minds about a product, be less confident in their choice and less likely to repurchase."
Simplify The Decisions
CEB outlined its findings in the Harvard Business Review, and offers this hypothetical of two rival digital camera brands.
Brand A targets anyone searching common digital camera terms. In stores, its labels list key technical attributes, and ads include QR codes sending them to the company website for more technical specs.
Brand B uses search engine targeting to understand the consumer’s intent: Is the consumer just browsing, or ready to buy? The company those in the early stages of investigation to third-party review sites to read good reviews, and directs those ready to buy to its own website, which features more user reviews and ratings. Its QR codes direct the browser/buyer to a highly visual representation of the high-pixel, high-quality pictures the camera takes versus those of competitors.
Brand A informs the buyer, but Brand B actively helps the buyer make a decision.
“Our research shows that customers considering both brands are likely to be dramatically more “sticky” toward Brand B,” wrote the CEB researchers.
CEB's insights show a 20% increase in simplifying the decision-making process results in a 96% increase in a customer's likelihood to purchase, re-purchase or recommend a particular brand.
Companies can simplify the buying process in three important ways by helping consumers:
- Trust Information: provide recommendations by consumer advisors, ratings and reviews
- Navigate the Purchase Process: simplify the research process by offering clear and streamlined brand-specific product information targeted to each decision stage
- Weigh Comparison Options: make transparent buying guides and brand differentiated information easily available