About Me

John Fahy is the Professor of Marketing in the University of Limerick and Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Adelaide. He is an award winning author and speaker on marketing issues around the world.

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Make Life Easier for Your Customers!

Are the efforts of marketers making our lives harder or easier? This was one of the key questions asked by a recent comprehensive study of over 7,000 consumers carried out in the UK, US and Australia. In our information rich world, we are increasingly overwhelmed by choice. And too much choice paralyzes us – we simply can’t decide what to buy, so paradoxically, we don’t buy anything. The findings of this Corporate Executive Board study suggests that too often, firms that are spending huge sums trying to engage their customers on and offline are actually turning them away.



Some of the findings of this and other related studies, reported in a recent Harvard Business Review article make for fascinating reading. For example, businesses believe that some of the reasons consumers follow them on social sites are to learn about new products (73%), submit opinion on current products and services (69%), feel connected (64%) and be part of a community (61%). The extent to which these formed part of the consumer’s actual reasons were 51%, 49%, 33% and 22% respectively. So much for all the ‘relationship’ marketing efforts! Their main reason was to get discounts (60%) or to make a purchase (55%). Other interesting findings to note are that 70% of those using a mobile device to search are within hours of a purchase, while 70% of those using a desktop are on average a week away. Similarly, someone searching for ‘luxury cars’ is at an early stage of the buying decision process compared with someone who enters a phrase like ‘BMW vs Audi’.


The main recommendation of the article is that firms need to construct their websites to aid decision simplicity. This involves three elements. First, minimise the number of information sources consumers must touch before confidently moving forward to a purchase. Second, build trust – not in the brand, but in the information being gathered. And finally, make it easy to weigh up the potential options being considered. This involves not only the information provided but also the number of variants actually offered. Is all of this worth doing? Well it would appear so. Brands in the top quarter of the decision simplicity index were 86% more likely to be purchased than those in the bottom quarter, were 9% more likely to be repurchased and were a full 115% more likely to be recommended to friends. In 2012, less is more!


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