By: Hechuan Lou
In “To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple”, Spenner and Freeman (2012) discuss what consumers want from marketers when they go online shopping. According to the authors, marketers think that consumers are web-savvy, and they are good at filtering information in order to get the best deal from the market. By thinking in this way, marketers started expanding the volume of marketing information. However, the authors claimed what online consumers want from marketers is not a large amount of information but simplicity. Expanding the number of marketing messages will make it complicated for consumers to make decisions and push them away from look for alternatives. The authors conclude that marketers should provide simple purchase paths based on consumer’s behavior.
Spenner and Freeman analyzed the reasons why simplicity worked by giving an example of two camera brands, A and B. After comparing their online purchase path instructions, brand B won more consumers as they provided a simple path to make decisions based on consumers’ individual needs. I agree with the authors’ opinion that marketers should understand the consumers’ needs first and then provide trustworthy and simple information and paths to help them make decisions, because consumers are not interested in becoming an expert in a specific area by gaining a large amount of information; they are interested in using the easiest way to find perfect products. It’s very important for marketers to understand this before they develop their marketing strategies. The marketers’ goal is to attract as many consumers as they can, and the key to achieving this goal is to meet the consumers’ needs because customers’ behavior will have a direct impact on the number of products the marketers sell.
How do the marketers satisfy consumers’ needs to help make decisions simple? In this article, the authors analyze three points to answer this question: aiding navigation, building trust, and making it easier to weigh options. I agree with these three points because thry can make sure that the consumers are on the right path that will lead to a positive result for the marketers. However, there is one point I disagree with. The authors suggest that marketers should “build cadres of trustworthy advisers, rather than simply developing recommenders who will push the brand”. I disagree with this opinion because people who are looking for a real product are more likely to trust other consumers’ recommendations rather than a person who they think is on the same page with the marketers. In other words, consumers believe “word of mouth” is better than paid advisors. To illustrate, people like to shop on Amazon.com. They read and write reviews, and the reviews help them make decisions. For example, I recently bought a pair of headphones from Amazon. I saw the pictures that other buyers uploaded and the suggestions they gave, and I decided quickly to buy the headphones. Therefore, when the reviews are positive, customers are more apt to purchase. Otherwise, they will look for other products or even go to other store websites. For example, there is a video on YouTube video, “I made a mistake I bought a Jeep”. After it was posted by an Australian customer, many people commented that they were going to buy a jeep, but changed their mind after watching the video.
In conclusion, the article pointed out that “[m]any brands lead consumers down confusing purchase paths.” By addressing this problem, the authors suggested that marketers should combine the three points above to make decisions simpler. I think with so many online resources day-after-day, consumers are tired of filtering a large volume of messages. Providing a simple and easy path becomes more and more important for marketers and many of them have already started developing their simple paths for consumers.
Spenner, P., & Freeman, K., (2012). To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2012/05/to-keep-your-customers-keep-it-simple