Brands simplify the consumer experience

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“I think it’s more than the world of retail. The entire business model has changed because if we step back 20 years ago, how we would make a buying decision then was based on a stimulatory response. We’d watch a tv commercial, buy a product,” Deloitte Digital director Michael Cowen told CNBC Africa.

“Today we have the ability to make a decision through a mobile phone: we talk to our friends, we tweet each other, look at reviews on Amazon. How we make a buying decision has fundamentally changed, and this is having a huge impact in how products need to be delivered to consumers.”

Because of the variety of products and services in all aspects of daily life, consumers have become increasingly overwhelmed with making a choice that best suits their need.

“We’re faced with too many choices every day, and the problem is the more complicated the choice. The options become too many, it becomes really hard. We’ve all gone to that restaurant where we’ve had too many options on our menu and we’re never quite satisfied with the meal,” Cowen explained.

“Ultimately, all we want to do is to be happy as human beings, and the problem is we’ve just got way too many choices available to us.”

Cowen added that there are also too many choices offered to consumers over arbitrary products and services, forcing retailers to review their business models and ensure that their product stands out from their competitors’.

“Brands are just as important, or if not, more important than ever before. You’ve got to be able to stand out from the clatter, and you’ve also got to be able to simplify the decision making process. You’ve got to categorise the decision making process and you’ve got to guide the consumer on a process that is seamless,” he said.

A case study was conducted in the United States where Americans had to invest in a savings bond. The wide variety made the choices a lot more complex, and a number of them decided upon not making a choice in the end.

Such instances have inspired a number of companies to reduce their volume of brands. In some cases, the decision resulted in an increase in sales by almost 10 per cent.

“We’ve got to simplify, we’ve got to make it easier, we’ve got to categorise it [and] we’ve got to guide those consumers down a path that is in the natural flow of their lives, as opposed to how you want to deliver a product,” said Cowen.