Focusing on the User, Not the Buyer

By Douglas Weinstein
Published on: March 12, 2021

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Old school retailers and manufacturers have always tried to get into the mind of the buyer. What makes the buyer tick and how can we manipulate them into buying our product. Utilizing traditional advertising channels, they often use promotions as a major part of their marketing strategy, trying to entice and create demand. In other words, they have placed more emphasis on what people think about their products, instead of how people actually use their products.

Times have changed. Today, what manufacturers and retailers need to understand in the digital age is how to position a product in the life of the user. You need to define and understand how users experience your product. And building on how users interact and experience your product, the next step is to turn them into advocates.

Let’s take two brands delivering similar products to market. Coca-Cola and Red Bull. Coke are masters at creating engaging, heart-string pulling, ‘Have a Coke Today’ commercials. They run impressive vending operations and POP displays. Buyers see the ‘on-sale now’ advertisements constantly and purchase based on a steady diet of commercial bombardment. Red Bull, on the other hand, built their brand on the back of social media interaction and how it makes you feel when you actually use the product. And Red Bull puts on events that reinforces the use of the product – energy boost! Red Bull users chug a can, put on the Go-Pro camera and just do it! They share their energy boost stories across social platforms as advocates of the product. Advocates advocating! What a concept.

So, how does the CI channel get in on this marketing mindset, the user experience? Besides the obvious – why do Apple customers love the Apple stores? Because they can touch and feel all of the shiny objects – here’s an example I want to use based on personal experience:

So, we have an extra 55-inch LCD gathering dust in the basement and I offered it to a Millennial friend, “hey, do you want to borrow this, because we aren’t using it?” The answer was “no, we don’t watch TV. We all just watch our own phone and talk about what we’re watching.” I was like, ‘wtf?’

A week later, this Millennial and a few of her friends were over at the house and I showed them our theater with the 110-inch screen and full blown sound system. They gasped – they had never seen one of these in person and more important, they had never experienced one. Well, they sat down and watched Blade Runner 2049 from start to finish and not one of them picked up their phone the whole time. Once the movie was over, they picked up their phones, snapped pictures of the screen and shot that out to their peeps. They were sharing a user experience. They couldn’t have cared less about what brands I had, or the technical specs or acoustic treatment – they were only talking about the experience. Great sound, booming bass, detailed picture, etc. They could fully grasp how a home theater would play in their lives, as it was now tangible and real. And experienced. And they shared.

So, give your digital customers an experience and show them how your products will be involved with their lives. Don’t focus entirely on what happens leading up to a sale (online research, website hits, specifications and our industry’s inane use of acronyms, etc.). Instead, focus on what happens after the sale (did you deliver on your brand promise, are you providing service, are your customers sharing, is your reputation growing, etc.). Focus on the user, not the buyer.

Douglas Weinstein

Doug is the Editor and co-founder of the Technology Insider Group and Technology Designer Magazine. Previously, he was the Executive Director and co-founder of the Elf Foundation, a non-profit organization that created Room of Magic entertainment theaters in children's hospitals across North America.

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