Today's consumer is more empowered than ever. 2011 iQmetrix Summit keynote Doug Stephens said the Internet changed everything for consumers, giving us boundless access to purchase research information. And in recent years, smartphones have put all of that info in our pockets.
The only problem is: information overload.
The Harvard Business Review recently polled 7,000 consumers worldwide and found that "consumers are overwhelmed with choice and information they're exposed to, and marketers' relentless efforts to 'engage' with them," wrote Karen Freeman, Patrick Spenner and Anna Bird (May 1).
Freeman, Spenner and Bird explain that 30% of respondents dilligently research and compare brands in an attempt to make an informed purchase decision. Another 30% abandon the search altogether and "simply zero in on a single brand," and most of these people were first-time buyers of a product or service, thereby significantly reducing the brand loyalty factor.
"Either way, these 60% of consumers are responding to the bombardment in ways that can lead to poorly considered decisions -- or no decision at all," they wrote.
For many confused consumers, the iPhone is an easier phone to choose.
Freeman, Spenner and Bird point out that Apple fans' single-minded pursuit of iPhones, for example, indicates the frustration many people feel when comparing the wide array of smartphones available to them. For whatever reason (peer pressure, Apple marketing, the lure of the Apple store, loyalty to the Apple brand, familiarity with iTunes and Apple devices, etc.), these consumers have zeroed in on the iPhone. And most likely because it is the simplest choice available: "There are so many Android phones out there, so which one should I go with? At least with the iPhone, there's only one model." This type of logic is familiar to many of us, I'm sure.
So how can marketers and retailers respond to the "cognitive overload" consumers are experiencing?
"Appeal to consumers by, simply, making it simple for them," write Freeman, Spenner and Bird.
"In fact, we found that the single biggest driver of 'stickiness' -- customers' likelihood of following through on a purchase, buying the product again, and recommending it -- was, by far, 'decision simplicity,' the ease with which consumers can gather trustworthy information about a product and confidently and efficiently navigate their purchase options."
XQ Interactive Retail helps brings added simplicity to the physical store.
At iQmetrix, our XQ Interactive Retail solutions help retailers deliver the simplicity their customers are looking for. Interactive touchscreens allow customers to navigate through detailed product information on a user friendly interface, either by themselves or with the help of a salesperson.
As Freeman, Spenner and Bird recommend, retailers must offer increased "design simplicity" and make it easier for customers to gather reliable information about a product. From there, they can make a confident and efficient purchase decision. That's what XQ does for the store. As a result, those customers will be more likely to follow through on the purchase, come back to the store and recommend the store to others.
It makes sense. The best in-store experience is the simplest one.