Commentary

Friction In Brand Experience: Friend or Foe?

The tech entrepreneurs of the world are on a mission to kill friction. They want us to have everything at the push of a button: zero waiting times, zero effort.

We’re living in a time where apps on our phones can be used for everything from getting our laundry done, to ordering our favorite pizza to arrive at the door in just minutes. And now, subscription models exist to allow us to order a regular supply of socks, razors or multivitamins without any effort at all.

To remain relevant these days, creating ways for customers to spend more valuable time with brands may just be the strategy they need to win. Brands should be focusing their attention on removing the inconvenient aspect of purchasing that people don’t want to deal with. They must find ways to get rid of the bad, while retaining the good. This concept can be referred to as friction.

Friction can serve as an enjoyable touchpoint between the customer and a brand. In a recent survey conducted by Karmarama and Accenture on consumer perceptions of brand performance, most respondents claimed that they do not feel their favorite brands care about them as humans.

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Friction can provide those moments that create genuine human experiences, which can drive customers’ decision-making.

Instant gratification is the impulse brands must consider first when creating experience with friction. Amazon is at the forefront of this phenomenon, and there’s an entire click-to-buy brand brigade not far behind.

Some things are worth waiting for. A longer wait time can create anticipation in the eyes of customers– the gratification they feel when the product arrives is much greater. A study published by Springer on the Applied Research in Quality of Life suggests that when it comes to taking a trip, people feel the most joy in overall anticipation beforehand. In fact, the act of planning a holiday was shown to have boosted the happiness among respondents for eight weeks.

Additionally, the very act of nurturing and caring for a purchase can create a strong emotional bond to the brand. Our research shows that customers will reward brands that give them this human experience and are willing to pay a premium for the chance to have it. In fact, emotional drivers were found to be just as important to consumers as practical factors when choosing which brand to buy.

The closer we get to effortless existences, the fewer decisions we’ll have to make, the less individual we will become and the closer we get to a world of white-label products – devoid of choice or the desire to have it.

Luckily, friction might be what’s needed to save us.

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