Posted by Alan Nazarelli ● Wed, Sep 09, 2020 @ 07:25 PM

The Buyer's Journey 3: Feelings...Nothing More Than Feelings

In a great act of "reverse delegation", our marketing intern assigned me the task this summer of re-thinking the buyer's journey and updating traditional text models so they are relevant for today's social and digital worlds. Wanting to set a good example for my team, I am happy to report that with this third post in the series, I am completing (belatedly) my three part summer assignment!

In Buyers Journey part 1, we updated the old AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) model to incorporate steps such as like and trust before they can buy. We also considered the influence of the tribe(s) they belong to. And finally we (correctly) moved the model from the seller column to the buyer column: it’s the buyer’s journey, not the sellers!

In part 2, we blogged about the buyer-less journey, what when the product is free or near free?  We invoked customer experience design principles from our Customer Anthropology research to create a set of guidelines to elicit strong adoption, engagement, and continued use. 

In part 3, we dig deeper into the psyche of the buyer and explore the role of feelings. The words of the 70’s one hit wonder come to mind, when it comes down to the purchase decision, it is all about feelings---and nothing more than feelings. We are talking of course about decisions on discretionary products, not mandatory or compulsory ones, such as deciding between two medications your physician recommends each with a different side effects.

What then are the factors that evoke feelings? How can market researchers uncover these? And how can designers incorporate these?

I am going to address the question from the point of view of a product category we know very well, mobile devices and apps, but I believe the concepts apply to a wide array of products and services. Here again, I consulted files in our archives from our Customer Anthropology work. 

There are five factors (in approximate descending order) that impact feelings in the consumer's emotional brain:

1. Aesthetic appeal-sensory feel, tactile sensations evoked. Shapes and textures come make your product appeal to your customers emotionsinto play here. One thing we learned from our customer anthropology research is that plastic is not a deal breaker, but "plasticky" is. In the case of "sift" features such as the OS, fluidity of the experience, responsiveness to touch, and the right amount of responsive feedback are all important attributes.

2. The point of purchase ambiance. Sensory positioning of the device in the display case or stand. Other ambiance factors include store lighting, quality of fixtures and the extent to which the sales person enabled the "experiential" to happen, giving the consumer lots of "space" for this to happen. The magic trick of being able to make yourself invisible on command would be a good skill to teach when training sales staff.

3. Barriers to the experience. Related to 2 above, while retailers need to secure these devices against theft, our research reveals that security clamps for most retailers are HIGHLY inconvenient. A retailer who expends effort at innovating on these stands to gain huge payoffs for themselves and the devices they sell.

4. Packaging and unboxing experience. Realize of course that this happens after the purchase, these factors play and important role. There is a reason they call it "retail therapy" and the therapy continues when they get home to unpack and start using their devices or other products. Finishing details on the package are a key part and on this front, Apple continues to lead the pack, even though most packaging for such devices come close. Removing plastic covering from screens is a highly gratifying experience and the first joyful signal that ownership is being transferred to the purchaser. Although this may already have happened before they left the store. Annoying aspects are shrink wrappers on adapters and accessories that are hard to remove and make the consumer wary of scratching or scuffing items in their attempt to remove packaging.

5. Risk reversal. Consumers feel they are taking a major risk when purchasing mobile devices. This extends of course to other items such as apparel, but I will stick to the category our findings are based on. Assurance of "returnability” significantly removes tension that interferes with the purchase and post purchase enjoyment. Consumers' confidence and trust in retailer’s policies have been severely eroded of late. Experiences recalled include penalties such as unexpected re-stocking fees were plentiful in our interviews with consumers, even with higher end retailers. The retailer who scored highest by far on this attribute was Costco and you only need to look at the company's financial success to see what this trust has translated into. Retailers can't fake their way into consumer trust and the biggest fear evoked is what was presented as a relationship is really a money transaction for a large box retailer who couldn't care less about you or how satisfied you are with your purchase. To this end, follow up cards or communications from store staff come across as fake, the real experience of trust and caring is established at the point of sale.

We conclude our three part buyer’s journey primer with the most important aspect of all: FEELINGS, an ingredient product marketers and designers may ignore, but at their own peril.


Alan Nazarelli is President and CEO of Silicon Valley Research Group, a global market research and strategy development firm focused on the needs of technology companies.



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Topics: Customer Anthroplogy, Buyers Journey