Researchers from the Corporate Executive Board analyzed results from multiple surveys that totaled over 7,000 consumers, as well as interview with hundreds of marketing experts and executives, trying to figure out what makes a product “stick”. They looked at over 40 variables, trying to figure out what is most important in the choice of one brand over others. The results, discussed in a recent Harvard Business Review article, may surprise you. The key wasn’t frequency of interaction with the brand, nor was it price, nor was it the consumer’s initial perception of the brand. In the end, the purchasing decisions are most influenced by which company makes the decision to purchase simple.
Just so this doesn’t get taken out of context, we’re not talking about making the purchase simple. Putting up big red flags that says “buy this here” isn’t going to help you. We’re talking about making the decision simple. As Spenner and Freeman describe it in the HBR article: “the ease with which consumers can gather trustworthy information about a product and confidently and efficiently weigh their purchase options.” The reason for this? In a new world of marketing flooded with choice, driven by content, and with staggering amounts of marketing messages, many customers are simply overloaded with information. They’ll reward the brand that best helps them make things simple again.
How great is this effect? Spenner and Freeman created a “decision simplicity index” that graded brands on how easy it is to gather, navigate, and assess information about them. Those that scored in the top 25th percentile were 86% more likely to be purchased and 115% more likely to be recommended to others than those in the bottom 25th percentile. That is awfully dramatic.
Now all of this requires our usual grain of salt (I’m a scientist by training as well and as such am a naturally skeptical creature). These are general-purpose consumers that were studied and analyzed. The scientist is not the average consumer. The scientist is more skeptical, more analytical, and more capable of dealing with large amounts of information. However, even scientists will have a threshold at which an abundance of information will become too much information and the effect that decision simplicity has on the purchase decision will be significant. As the growth in the life sciences in general leads to the growth in life science tools, an abundance of options may eventually lead to information overload for all scientists, and those who simplify the decision making process will be rewarded.
Even now, however, life science marketers stand to benefit from making decision processes simple. We’ll be following this post up with another on how to simplify the purchase decision. Be sure to check back for more information.