Don Norman, the famous author of Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things, The Design of Everyday Things and few others recently wrote a column for CACM called Simplicity Is Highly Overrated.
The main point of his article is that customers are buying complex LG or Samsung refrigerators or washing machines instead of the simpler GE, Braun or Philips because they love features.
Asked “Why”, Koreans answered “Because Koreans like things to look complex”. Don Norman takes it without any questioning.
How do we make decisions
An average buyer for an average product (refrigerator and washing machine fall into this category) buys what he perceives “best” for him.
Main word here is perceived.
Because there is no reality, there is only perception of reality.
In many cases to find ”the best” is hopeless. Because we have only one life.
Mr. Don Norman, please follow your idea and choose a washing machine based on the features list. Please, write the amount of time you spent on this purchase.
I can bet, that when you bought your washing machine, you chose the first acceptable.
From which brand did you start checking for these investigations?
It’s your preferred brand. Period.
Why customers want more features
So, why customers say that they prefer more features?
Every customer must make a decision. When company’s name means nothing in washing machines business, like LG, Samsung, GE, Braun or Philips, they are seeking other criteria. In many cases price comes as the second criteria – that’s why if your brand stands for nothing, it’s always good to have low price.
When the choice is “cheap”, people seek for excuses (especially for themselves), why they buy this. And number of features is the easiest excuse.
In his article Norman wrote:
“Marketing experts know that purchase decisions are influenced by feature lists, even if the buyers realize they will probably never use most of the features. Even if the features confuse more than they help.”
I want to see the feature list of Harley-Davidson. And I want to see how Harley-Davidson’s owner compares Harley’s vs. Kawasaki’s “feature list”.
And I want to see Mac user, who compares Mac feature list with PC feature list.
And Rolex feature list, compared with cheap no-name electronic watch from China feature list.
Armani suit feature list…
Porsche feature list…
Montblanc fountain pen feature list…
Can you remember when was the last time you compared features? I bet, it happened only if you had no preferred brand for this category.
Brand, not feature list is the main reason to buy.
Brand, which stands for something in prospect’s mind.
Not LG, Samsung or Siemens. Minority compares Maytag vs Samsung features. Because Maytag has “reliability” position in the customers mind. And Samsung… Well, I don’t know, what exactly Samsung is. Lots of cheap copycat’s from Korea. So, if I want something cheap from Korea, I will compare Samsung’s feature list with LG feature list.
But if I want reliability, I will compare one Maytag model feature list with another Maytag model feature list.
That’s the power of brand. Feature list comes only after brand.