It starts sooner than we might have thought. The moment comes early when you realize that you can make your first serious purchase. In the case of my son, it’s a new phone. He truly is passionate about phone technology, from the science and marketing behind the very first iPhone to the latest and greatest new products.
He spends his time watching YouTube videos of different phones, both from news sites like Wired and The Verge, and from fan sites. He follows the tech companies he likes best on Twitter, and he reads Consumer Reports – in print, thank you – when it arrives. He’s not yet ready to test out products because he’s still too far from the moment of purchase, but he’s certainly eager to see what his friends’ phones are like.
This pending phone purchase is a considered purchase. There is no doubt about it. And he is treating it the way we might treat more complicated or higher-end purchases. The access that we have to information today provides an opportunity to deeply consider the purchases that are important to us. It doesn’t matter whether you are starting a new diet plan, looking at colleges, buying insurance or selecting new windows, the consideration path is much more like a tangled bowl of fettuccine than a typical funnel.
What makes this challenging — and interesting — is that even non-considered purchases are getting considered today. People are researching fast-food burgers, razors and more, and they are largely following this pattern of using multiple channels, engaging with peers or family, and finally arriving at a point of decision. With so much choice, all purchases are considered. But some are more considered than others. Certainly, the new flooring will get more consideration than a taco, and a new computer more consideration than an everyday business suit. But the nature of the consumer relationship with media today means that there are a lot of places that a brand can trip — either with a bad marketing decision or simply because they are derailed by another exciting product along the pathway.
So how do you make sure your product is able to stand on its own two feet? For starters, you’d better have a great product. In this brave new world, borderline products have a much harder time of sticking it out. The internet can kill a mediocre product in a day. Considerers will do their homework and research a product, whether its real estate or skin care. Come out on top, and you’ll be fine. Otherwise, you’ve got more challenges ahead of you.
The truth is, there are no buyers anymore. There are only considerers. And they know it. You need to be genuinely different and better. Just being a luxury item isn’t enough. You really need to be the best, execute the best marketing plan, use your data wisely. Considerers will know if you are trying to pull the vicuña over their eyes, and they won’t let you get away with it.
Considerers have more to choose from and are getting smarter about what to buy. The gate has already opened to a new marketing reality, one where the lines between the marketer and the marketed are blurring. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about affluents or not. For some, the situation may feel Orwellian. For others, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.