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Forget Conspicuous Consumption... How About Smart Consumption?

by Chris Dalton | 10.28.13

Have you ever ordered something online, eagerly anticipating the package to arrive, until you open it up and say… “oh”?

Maybe the product isn’t quite what you were expecting – the sweater is wildly oversized, or the tool attachment doesn’t work with your current equipment.  With your built up assumptions, you were expecting whatever it is you bought to perfectly complement your life, right? In the end, you have to return the product because it isn’t what you need, leaving you unhappy and costing both you and the seller time and resources.

Often, what causes this problem is a mismatch in information. At some point the details that you needed were not communicate correctly, misconstrued, or not at all. The shopper doesn’t always have easy access to the information they want specifically. Or for a long time, companies were not helping shoppers by making suggestions or offering key pieces of information in the buying process. This communication void creates wastes of time, money, and even tangible resources.

In Tom Adams recent article on Co.Exist, “The Brands of the Future Will Help you Consume Less,”  he brings up some interesting points about the future of your relationship with brands and the implications it brings with the way we consume things.

Brands are beginning to seek other goals than to simply move the largest amount of product possible. The  key success metrics of the future focus on brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. With reams of data collection online, companies are using this detailed consumer data to reach out to consumers in interesting ways. Amazon, for example, gives product suggestions based on past purchases, gearing target demographics towards precisely personalized product categories. Netflix does the same when offering movie suggestions – creating plethora genres that aren’t typically defined categories, like Romantic Movies Featuring A Villain Wearing A Cape.

Does this mean that, since Netflix is offering these ultra detailed suggestions, you are less likely to watch all the movies that are suggested to you? Most likely. But this isn’t bad business for Netflix – on the flip side, you are now more likely to watch movies that wouldn’t have otherwise been on your radar - and thank them for it.

One might assume that such an attitude towards brands will make them less significant in people’s lives. Adams makes a great counterpoint to this fear: “This will make us more loyal to brands, not less, because we will depend on them as vital inputs to our quantified selves.” Brand loyalty arises out of a mutually beneficial arrangement. Brands can better understand their consumers needs, and consumers can have more personalized products and services offered by brands.

Customers look towards brands to innovate and save on resources and waste, thus saving both parties time and money. When brands help offer solutions to your tailored needs, they give you what you need faster and build a sense of trust. This ongoing brand relationship is beneficial for both the company and consumer. When you buy only what you need and know exactly what you are buying there is a lower rate of product returns, a higher rate of customer satisfaction, and a strong sense of loyalty.

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