In a media environment bursting with more messaging every day, it can be remarkably difficult for consumers to find the information they need to make confident purchase decisions.
Recently, a friend was in Costco looking at vacuum cleaners. With nothing more than the packaging information available at the shelf, he Googled one model on his iPhone. The first search return was for the manufacturer’s product page, not scaled for mobile, where he found basic specs and some product copy. The second search return, an Amazon listing, featured six reviews that almost completely negated each other: one 5-star, two 4-stars, one 2-star and two vehemently written 1-stars.
A search for “best vacuum under $200” pulled up an Amazon ranking of models based on hundreds of consumer-generated reviews. It was impressive and comprehensive, but not easy to read on the small screen, in the crowded aisle of a warehouse chain.
Does it come as any surprise that my friend didn’t buy a vacuum that day?
It’s amazing to consider the money some organizations will spend on advertising and marketing campaigns, chasing vagaries like buzz and awareness, while neglecting to allocate resources to make pertinent information readily available to stakeholders. It’s an even larger missed opportunity when you stop to think about how readily available the tools are.
In the U.S. alone, there are more than 266 million Internet users and more than 234 million cell phone users – more than 77 percent of the total population. There are currently more than 63 million smartphone users over the age of 13 in the U.S., an increase of 60 percent from last year, with projections as high as 142 million users by the end of 2011.
Forward-thinking brands and retailers understand what these numbers mean and it is guiding both the kind of content they produce and how they make that content available to consumers. Brands are investing in everything from simple QR codes to sophisticated 4G tele-presence kiosks that offer real-time interaction, all of which can help satisfy consumers’ growing craving for information that can help them choose a product, or reassure them that they are spending their money wisely.
Our information-saturated environment has created a belief among consumers that the information they need is out there – somewhere. The organizations that efficiently and effectively provide that information stand to both influence decisions at the moment of purchase and forge strong, lasting connections. The organizations that don’t may instead contribute to the confusion and frustration that convinces consumers, like my friend, that the only decision is not to purchase at all.