Consumers buy brands because of the way they make them feel. They do not buy them because of what they do. What the product does is the reason that they are buying into the category. Consumers choose a specific brand because of the way it makes them feel.
This is an emotional response to the brand – its communication, its presentation and their experience of its use.
Just because your product is the best, it doesn’t mean that consumers believe that it’s the best.
When you understand the psychology of how and why your brand evokes certain feelings within the consumer and how this is different from your competitors, you start to understand why consumers buy the other brand and how you can create a greater belief in yours.
Efficacy is not the same as Belief.
You could have the best cleaning product ever created, but consumers would not buy it because it was the best. Consumers would buy it because they believe that it is the best.
Consumers are not scientists and do not have labs in which they can test the efficacy of the product. Consumers rely upon proxies to tell them that their kitchen is clean. Some are logical, rational indicators, but many are unconscious prompts that make them “feel” happy about the state of their kitchen. These invariably have little or no true relevance to its cleanliness, but they prompt that feeling that it is clean, that your product has done, is doing, its job.
Because many of these indicators are unconscious and because others when expressed out-loud are clearly illogical consumers rarely voice them – even to themselves. However, when we do a psychometric profile of consumers interaction with the brand they are revealed.
It is these emotional cues that differentiate a brand from its competitors more than anything else. It is these emotional cues that prompt consumers to choose a brand of preference – or to believe that they are all the same and choose the cheapest.
When you understand these cues, you can shape your product development and your communications strategy to maximise the right cues to positively differentiate your brand from its competitors.
It is not about one feature that your product lacks. It is about how the communications and each stage of the product experience come together to create a comprehensive narrative in the consumer’s mind convincing them of its effectiveness. The story reassures them and allows them to move from focusing upon the task at hand to getting on with their lives. The product has done/is doing its job.
While the efficacy of a homecare or healthcare product is clearly important, invariably, due to factors that have nothing to do with the actual efficacy of the product, the consumer will form their opinion of its effectiveness according to their experience of use. Consumer belief is the critical factor.
When the consumer believes in your product, when they believe that it is working for them, it makes them feel better and they are motivated to keep using it. This is an emotional rather than a rational reaction. Difficult to prove in a clinical trial or to understand through quantitative testing, but essential to your success in a competitive market.
Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:
Providing Clarity on the Psychological relationships between consumers and brands