I had to make a big purchase decision recently – a dishwasher. After 12 great years ours had broken down and let’s face it – life is not so great without a dishwasher – and the 9 and 12 year olds weren’t that efficient!
Like me, people are increasingly turning to online reviews and social media before making important purchases. I checked out on-line reviews, I asked my friends on social media and I weighed up the pros and the cons of sticking with the brand I know or moving to new territory.
So, how should we take account of this in our marketing. The start of every year I encourage you to ‘google’ yourself and your business. And do the same for your competitors. What can you learn from it?
If you have a strong USP you should be able to indirectly compare your business to your competitors and come out ahead in the minds of your target market.
In my research I came across a tool that helps you think about the impact of social media on your customers’ purchasing decisions. It’s called the #Simonson and Rosen’s Influence Mix.
About the Tool
Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen are self proclaimed experts in how social media is changing the way we shop.
Their book #Absolute Value (2014) they document how the Internet is moving us towards an age of ‘nearly perfect information’. In this age people can predict exactly what it would be like to own and use a product/service before they buy it.
Where people’s purchasing decisions are strongly influenced by online reviews and peer-to-peer information sharing, you clearly need to take account of this in your marketing.
Simonson and Rosen identified three main factors that influence customers’ purchasing decisions, and published them in the January/February 2014 issue of the #Harvard Business Review. These are:
- Prior preferences, beliefs, and experiences (P).
- Information from marketers, such as packaging, pricing, and advertising (M).
- Input from other people, such as friends, family, and peers (O).
The more a person is influenced by one of these factors, the less influence the other factors will have. Therefore to make the most of people’s preferences, you need to identify which factor is the most influential to your target market, and then tailor your marketing strategy to suit.
In summary the three factors are described as:
1. (P) Prior Preferences, Beliefs, and Experiences
Routine, functional, and low-risk purchases are often influenced by prior preferences, beliefs, and experiences. For example, customers will often decide what type of milk, beverage, or detergent to buy, based upon past experience and personal preferences. They don’t give the decision a great deal of thought, and they buy largely from habit.
2. (M) Information From Marketers
Traditional forms of marketing – packaging, pricing, and advertising – have the strongest influence on emotionally driven purchases, and they are often used to try to persuade customers to switch from familiar brands to something new. Examples in this area include prestige and luxury goods such as cars, handbags, and watches, which rely largely on the status associated with the brand.
3. O) Input From Other People
Consumer groups, review websites, and social media have had a huge effect on the way that people choose products like holidays and cutting-edge technologies. Here, they seek information and reassurance in the form of real-life reviews from experts and from people like themselves.
This is especially relevant for high cost products where there is a level of uncertainty over quality, usability, functionality, and reliability. Here, people strongly value the reassurance that comes from hearing about other people’s experience with the product.
How to Use the PMO Mix
Different products and services naturally attract a different Influence Mix. Once you have identified your target markets primary influencer, you can fine-tune your marketing strategy and on-line approach.
And remember we are not always our target market. So are your customers a P,M or O?