The news that you’re expecting a child is such an incredible high – but dampened by the subsequent low of the retail experience leading up to the baby’s arrival. Taking my father-to-be duties seriously, I began the enormous task of researching one of the most important and costly purchase decisions to be made: The Pram.
Pram choices are vast and the relevant information is neither easy to find nor decipher. Much like buying a car, it’s a complex decision of details, additions, upgrades, attachments, aesthetic, functionality and safety. And then a plethora of brands, models, and prices to choose from. What struck me in the buying process was how little any brands were involved in the entire process, for example I, myself, had to search through a quagmire of information – review sites, online sites, bricks and mortar stores and chat with friends etc, before finally making a purchase decision. There is so much leg work in the purchase process – by us the consumer and not the brand!
Why is it that me, the sitting duck, the hot lead with the money and willingness to buy, has to do all of the work? I pioneered my own purchasing experience, moved down the purchase funnel and eventually closed the online sale myself. Surely I should be rewarded for doing the job of a brand in closing the sale? However as I was ready to buy on the brand’s online site, I was treated like every other anonymous buyer – unrecognised and unrewarded.
Data and the way people behave is, at its worst, being used to serve so called targeted ads that are generally condescending and irritating – this is true. Being targeted with hair loss ads in my impending middle age is not ideal and is not what I would call being smart about how we see and treat people.
There is a much bigger opportunity for brands to recognise and reward the journey people now make, often all by themselves to ultimately buy their product. Surely being able to close the sale without a huge investment in many areas of the marketing process is a major bonus. This opportunity lies in the move from a cost to acquire mentality – where money and effort is spent on acquiring a sale, to one that is about value exchange – where a brand recognises the value of a customer’s leg work and rewards and recognises them accordingly.Without being a critical part of the buying process, brands need to find stronger ways to remain relevant to the customer and in doing so, build loyalty.
What if we create a new model that can place a value on the data a consumer has shared, not to benefit the brand but to benefit the consumer? The concept being: the more a consumer shares with a brand about what they want, the more they should be rewarded. For example, I should be able to say, “Hi Brand X, I’m Ben, I want a black frame, black seat and grey hood Model Pram. What deal can you do for me?”
This creates value exchange using data to a brand and consumer’s ultimate benefit, rewarding both the brand for facilitating information gathering and easy decision making, and rewarding the consumer for persevering with what I have coined:‘the unassisted sales journey’.