Part 20: Why giving Customers Personal Experiences can gain Market Share

Consumers today are skeptical lots unlike 20 years ago when they would believe your marketing messages and your claims of what your product or services promises. As Doug Hall Doug Hall in his book “Jump Start you Business Brain” puts it; you need to give them a “real reason to believe”. It is therefore not enough for you to tell your potential market how good your products or services are and how much better you are than your competitors. In a very ‘noisy‘ world where we are bombarded with endless advertising and promotions, we become partially deaf. Not unless you can show me that you can indeed deliver what you promise. However the consumer‘s reality is often a perception rather than a fact. So if we can get the market to ‘perceive’ that we can deliver as we promises, we can win the battle of the mind or at least part of it. Eventually the promise has to be delivered in order to gain long-term customer’s loyalty.

One of the strategies to gain ‘beliefs’ is  “personal experience”. This involves providing the potential customers with an opportunity to see, feel and experience what your products or services can do and what benefits can be derived. This calls for an engagement of some sort.

Perhaps the most common way to do that is sampling. Sampling is done in different industry in different forms. Sampling can be seen from consumer products been tested and in some cases, ‘tasted’ in supermarkets to free ‘previews’ in the seminar business. Even in the online business; you get a certain amount of free usage up to appoint where you will have to pay money for it…once you are ‘hooked’.

So when you tried that ‘new’ juice that they let you taste at the supermarket does it taste better than the one you had before. You walk away carrying a perception and the likelihood that you will probably pick up a bottle when you leave.

The other way to gain your personal experience is using demonstration. This is meant to give product or services a visual impact and enables the vendor to show off what they can do. I am sure; most of us have seen demonstrations in the shopping malls of various kinds. From the ‘ wonder’ knife that cuts everything to the ‘wok’ that does not stick and fries without oil. How about that ‘before and after‘ look when you sat down at the cosmetic counter to get a ‘free’ makeover? All designed to get you to believe. Demonstrations are powerful ways to move products. Designing a ‘killer’ demonstration could be the corner stone of success for some companies.

One other way to gain consumer’s confidence through personal experience is sensory feedback. This involves providing potential customers with inputs that reinforce effectiveness of your product or services. Touching their senses through what they can see, feel, smell, taste or touch enhances the experiences.

My favorite example is the doughnut business. The first doughnut brand that came into Asia in a big way is Dunkin’ Donuts. Over the last few years there are a couple of brands that can successfully gain market share, namely Big Apple and J Co; both very similar to the U. S giant; Krispy Kremes. So what is the difference with these newer entrants? The big difference is that these new brands have their outlets designed whereby you can ‘see’ their people making the doughnuts right in front of you and therefore giving you the perception of freshness. Does it mean that Dunkin Donuts are not as fresh? Well probably not but the perception is different.

Similarly how do you know that a Famous Amos outlet is nearby when you walk into a shopping mall? Well you can ‘smell’ them before you can see them. Impacting the senses creates perceptions of reality. So why do you think that the clever sale assistant in the department store prompts you to ‘touch’ the soft leather of that expensive bag that she trying to get you to buy.

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