Why does the customer buy this product?

Why does the customer buy this product?

I was recently debating the value of brand with Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy fame, we were conducting some problem solving for a client, how to convert people to buy more of the clients products versus the competition and that question came up, a lot.

This led me down my favourite rabbit-hole; relevance.

Your brain loves relevance, all our brains do, it is a key part of it’s frigging job so it better!

Imagine a world where you had to spend your day doing stuff you absolutely hate with people you dislike whilst eating the food you hate and all the while dressed in the worst clothes you can think of.

What would that mean?

That the brain is failing at its job as it is designed to filter out experience you don’t want and wouldn’t enjoy.

Choice architecture is a lovely way to think about the function of the brain. At the start of our lives we have to make a lot of conscious choices as we learnt how the world operates, once we make those choices they move to other parts to become automatic choices, they are behaviours. When we do it enough times, including correcting choices we have learnt from or made mistakes with, they become habits.

This happens all of our lives but the conscious choices becomes less and less as we age simply because we have completed the choices load in the first phase of life, thereafter it’s just new, vital or pesky work change that makes the concept of new occur.

That is how the brain creates relevance, it’s just choices for the brain based on our past behaviour. The brain needs to go into this vast database of past choices 1,000’s of times a day, it then decides what thoughts (actions really) to the conscious part of your mind.

For example, when adverts pop up on Facebook our brain checks down the relevance in microseconds:

Who is it for?


Do we like them?


What product is it for?


We don’t need that, don’t engage.

Outcome: No conscious action.

Who is it for?


Do we like them?


What product is it for?


Outcome: Look, click, look, click!

Who is it for?

Wolfy McFashion Face

Do we like them?


Outcome: No conscious action.

This is where the notion of brand is deeply misunderstood, a logo is a tick not an absolute. To the point we are often spending our time picking apart data sets for advertising that are making endless assumptions that because someone liked a page doesn’t mean they love a brand or that it holds loyalty and relevance, it’s just a tick.

It’s not that I don’t believe in brand, quite the opposite in fact, we just completed round one of a mahoosive project for a Billion Dollar Global Fashion house. One of the core outputs was 88 pages of actionable insights, all designed around understanding what you stand for, what you mean to your marketplace and what the market is wanting more of and less of so that they engage and buy more.

Relevance is not as simple oh they bought a polo shirt, let’s show them more polo shirts. The context of that purchase has many dimensions that make up Why they bought, such as:

  • Style - I like that style.

  • Colour - I like that colour but it’s not always in our top 5 preferences.

  • Price - I only buy polos from this brand when full price.

  • Brand - I like this brand but only certain categories, this is a test purchase of a new product category.

  • Loyalty - I love you, we buy everything you create when we can afford it.

  • The Irrational Override - I didn’t really know you or like but I feel dangerous today and gonna give you a go.

Gap in the Matrix has been building solutions using individual personalisation for five years including two years of relentless testing, there are over 120 decision making factors just for Fashion, 137 for Holidays and a tonne of super weird factors for how and why we buy. Logo is just one factor of brand, it’s just a tick, if the products and meaning you show in the shop window (advertising, CRM) is irrelevant the customer will not come through the door but they still like the brand….keep it up and they will still like you but…..never visit you again.

broken image