3 Most Important Things About Consumers

1. It’s never really about the product

People are people.

People don’t drink because they need alcohol. People drink to socialize, to kill time, to have fun, to fit in, to numb their existential crisis. They drink to feel something — or stop feeling something.

It’s the same with any product. Unless you are selling electricity or heat or the absolute most basic of food and clothing to someone in dire straits, you are never, ever selling a product. And the need is never what it seems.

Understanding these needs goes a long way. You almost never want to speak or market directly in terms of these needs, because it freaks people out and breaks the “magic” of what they’re doing.

2. People want to be guided

People don’t want to do the heavy lifting of decision-making. Very rarely do customers come to the table knowing exactly what they want — and if they do, it’s either because (a) they’ve built experience in the subject matter or, more likely, (b) already received input from some other source ahead of time (i.e., “my friend told me…” or “I heard…”)

Outside of this, most people want guidance.

a. People want to know your expertise

“What do you recommend?”

This is by far the number one question we’ve always get asked. People know that this is your domain. They know you see countless exchanges just like this one every single day. They trust your expertise. And, most importantly, they trust this more than they want to entrust themselves with the responsibility of deciding.

people are always looking for your recommendation.

b. People want to know what everyone else is doing

One of the most common questions I hear at the bar is;

“What do others drink?”

Almost everyone who orders something does it because they heard it was the most popular. The funny thing about this is that it’s circular and self-fulfilling. The “most popular” has a good chance of staying the most popular, because the minute people hear this, they want to have it, too.

Of course, for those paying attention at home: this also means you can“create” a “most popular” item simply by telling people that it’s the most popular. This is sometimes the truth behind “featured products” lists.

Social proof is a powerful thing. And with great power comes great responsibility.

3. Consistency vs. Novelty

Consistency

On the one hand, people love consistency. They want to believe that they are consistent — and will often continue historical behavior in order to demonstrate this — and they want consistency in their environments. They want to understand what they’re getting into.

This is probably how people feel when they first interact with a brand online — each time acting as though they’ve never used the internet before. And a look on their face like it smells like dog poop.

Customers want rapport with you. And themselves.

Regulars are confident; secure; happy. They walk in and they know where they want to sit. They know where the bathroom is. They know your name. And most importantly, they know what they want to order — even if it’s different than last time.

Novelty

If you put something in front of people, they will engage with it.

People love new shit.

I definitely get this question — “what’s new?” — a lot more in my day job. Clients always want to know what new functionality we offer that we didn’t last time we all met.

And it trickles right down to their customers, who have come to expect that each time they hit your site, there will be something new. That’s consistent and the same.

People love new. They love novelty.

Free Shit, Full Prices, Rapport and Reciprocation

Now’s as good a time as any to include a note about “free shit.”

People love free shit. They love beer samples. They love giveaways. They love discounts.

When companies — and bartenders — give little shit away, it gets people engaged, and it inspires them to come back and spend, through the power of reciprocity. They feel like you guys really had something special.

The caveat, however, is that it has to seem targeted, special, and unexpected.If customers know that you’re giving everyone a sample of beer — or 10% off — the magic is broken.

They’re going to treat you as a source for discounts. If you want this, awesome. But if you don’t want this, tread lightly.

People want to like you

And they want you to like them. And perhaps most importantly, they want others to like them. And they want to like themselves.

The closer you help them get to all of these goals, the closer you are to your goals as well.

 

 

This post was originally published on medium.

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