AICEX: La vera complessità è rendere le cose semplici. Questa è la frase attribuita ad Albert Einstein che ci è tornata in mente leggendo questo post.
A hot topic over the past few years has been marketers’ attempt to build better customer experiences. But what does that mean? Does that mean to develop experiences that increase consumer-brand engagement, increasing the amount of time the consumer spends with the brand? Or from a consumer perspective, does it mean making the consumer-brand experience simpler so that the consumer can spend less time engaging with the brand and more time experiencing life?
According to a new global study, marketers need to rethink what a great customer experience is. Many customers desire more seamless, simpler, faster brand engagement. Time is the rarest of commodities brands that give consumers the benefit of more time are being valued. Global brand strategy and experience firm, Siegel+Gale, just completed their seventh annual Global Brand Simplicity Index study, designed to better understand: 1) the impact of simplicity on consumer behavior and firm performance, 2) the brands and industries that create the simplest experiences, and 3) the top brands that use simplicity to drive disruption. The 2017 study, based on an online survey of more than 14,000 respondents across nine countries, ranks 857 brands on their perceived simplicity. Below are some key findings from the study and insight from Margaret Molloy, global CMO and head of business Development for Siegel+Gale.
1-Simplicity earns a premium: 64% of consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences.
2-Simplicity builds loyalty: 61% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand because it’s simple.
3-Complexity costs: Brands that don’t provide simple experiences are leaving an estimated share of $86 billion on the table.
4-Simplicity performs: A stock portfolio of the simplest global brands outperforms the major indexes by 330%.
5-Simplicity inspires: 62% of employees at simple companies are brand champions—versus only 20% of employees at complex companies.
6-Simplicity drives disruption: The key brands that are disrupting industries are doing so, in part, by delivering simpler brand experiences to consumers.
Kimberly Whitler: Aldi is ranked #1 in simplicity. Can you explain how they achieved the top spot?
Margaret Molloy: First, by brand simplicity we mean creating experiences that are both remarkably clear and unexpectedly fresh. Aldi has topped the index for the fourth year in a row. There are a few reasons why Aldi performs so well in our annual study. If you’ve ever shopped at an Aldi, they have a much smaller footprint than many of their competitors. They don’t carry as many products per category and their store layout is consistent. This makes the shopping experience much simpler—easier to find the products needed, easier to decide which products to purchase, and easier to purchase them. On top of this, they say that they offer high quality products at affordable pricing and they deliver on this promise. This is important in creating a simple customer experience. Aldi’s marketing communication maps to the experience they provide for the consumer. There is congruence between their brand promise and what they consistently deliver. But consistency and clarity aren’t sufficient to top the ranking. Aldi adds an element of surprise by selling rotating stock in the middle of the store. These weekly specials include everything from ski gear to electronics. This point of differentiation in the supermarket space adds unexpected delight to the customer experience.
Whitler: Can you contrast this with a brand that is low on the Simplicity Index?
Molloy: Aldi stands in contrast with low-cost airline Ryanair. It is interesting to note that Ryanair is also a low-cost provider. It promises air travel at an affordable price. However, survey respondents report that Ryanair’s fares can be misleading as many fees are tacked on throughout the customer journey. This is not only a source of confusion, it takes consumers more time to calculate what the real price is. Customers feel duped when they face additional fees at the airport for check-in and checked bags. The promise of affordable air travel isn’t consistently delivered when all the fees are included. So, there are really two problems from a customer experience standpoint: 1) the decision-making process is more cumbersome and time consuming because the fees aren’t transparent and up front, and 2) the promise-delivery disconnect causes confusion, frustration, and disappointment, according to the survey.
Whitler: As you look at the simplicity ranking with respect to industries, rather than brands, it’s interesting that insurance and car rental companies are at the bottom. Do you have any insight on that?
Molloy: Company leadership must believe in simplicity and imbue it in every department and decision. Some industries weren’t born of simplicity but rather complexity. Many industries at the bottom of the Simplicity Index have inherent complexity because of regulation. Complying with government and state regulations may take too much of a resource load and it can prevent brands from investing in simplicity. If you think about the car rental process and consider something like the contract—which is only one of a number of touchpoints—the contract is often filled with legalese and small print. It looks complex. It is complex.
According to our study any convoluted contracts, that include hidden fees only complicate the process and frustrate consumers. The bottom performers on the Index are ripe for disruption by an upstart that provides a transparent, up-front, simple approach to customer experience.
Whitler: I was interested to see that several of the big disrupters are in fact, subscription-based brands. They are disrupting categories through the delivery mechanism of the product or service, and not the core product itself. What are your thoughts?
Molloy: Top performing disruptive brands share several characteristics. They identify pain points in everyday processes and remove friction. These disruption leaders are reimagining brand experiences and according to our study, consumers are rewarding them for doing so. At their core, they are focused on simplicity. For example, it is interesting to note that Dollar Shave Club and Jet.com landed on the top of our U.S. disrupter ranking and both were acquired for billions of dollars by Unilever and Walmart, respectively. They are doing something that the large, incumbents can’t seem to do themselves. The disrupters were born from a place of simplicity (also consider how Amazon was once a disrupter and has grown to be a behemoth). They aren’t trying to overlay simplicity on top of a process that is already complicated. These disrupters understand the end-to-end customer journey and are committed to simplifying the entire process for consumers. They are also focused on an important aspect of simplicity that is often neglected—they want to be useful. For example, Dollar Shave Club, is shipped directly to your home. They understand that there is only so much you can do to innovate the blade, and so they invested their time innovating on the distribution. For established companies, observing the practices of disrupters is a great way to begin to understand the power of simplicity.
Whitler: It’s interesting. In an introduction to marketing class, we talk about how the brand is more than the product, it can be an augmented product, or the way in which it is delivered, etc. Many of these disrupters are innovating around the core product and focusing on delivery and purchase—all delivering a different type of benefit. Rather than providing a closer shave, the Dollar Shave Club is providing less time wasted shopping and purchasing razors and more time spent with your family or at work or playing golf. This is a fascinating way to disrupt a category.
Molloy: Yes, many of the big disrupters are heavily focused on saving time (i.e., Dollar Shave Club, GrubHub, Square, Jet) and/or saving money (i.e., Uber, Airbnb, Ally)! Our most precious resource is time and if a brand helps us save it, it will generate loyalty. Top disrupters value consumers time by providing services to them when and where they need it most.
Whitler: Has there been a consistent lesson of the survey over the past seven years?
Molloy: One resounding message of our study is that simplicity pays. Consumers are willing to pay more for brands that provide simpler experiences and they are willing to recommend those brands. In a nutshell, a focus on simplicity is a key to creating great brand experiences.
As Molloy indicated, simplicity is now a movement. With consumers more and more time-starved, they desire to minimize anything that takes them away from living their lives. Brands or companies that deliver simpler experiences are highly valued. Simpler experiences means being more transparent, more useful, more human and time-saving. What is exciting from a marketing perspective is that this opens the door for innovation in a number of new and exciting areas. How can the delivery to the consumer be better and faster (i.e., Amazon)? How can returns be processed simpler and faster—without any “gotcha” fees? How can a retailer make finding an item easier and faster? As marketers consider enhancing the consumer experience, it’s important to ask whether the enhancement is what the consumer really wants (versus what the firm wants).
AUTHOR: Kimberly A. Whitler, CONTRIBUTOR