The hair care industry has seemingly endless options even within a given brand. Herbal Essences offers a customized set of tools online that filters its product offerings as consumers specify different aspects of their hair features and needs. Consumers are offered three different menus detailing their hair thickness, hair type and the benefit they seek through the product. They can then narrow the product type, and filter the results based on what product range they are interested in. At each stage, the website displays results based on the selections; each subsequent set of results is a narrower selection drawn from the previous display. The brand walks consumers through these options, helping to highlight what matters when making a purchasing decision, simplifying the process while remaining attentive to the customer’s individual concerns. The brand controls the pathway, offering consumers the tools they both need and want to weigh the options and make a decision, and in so doing, helps consumers figure out what matters to them. The customized tool highlights the specific advantages of the Herbal Essences brand while at the same time addressing the concerns of the customer. By offering this tool, the brand emerges as a clear choice among many options; by making clear what the brand has to offer, the consumer can make an informed and confident decision based on what matters to him or her. These tools act as filters that narrow the results to manageable and relevant information, a technique that can be applied across industries.
Search engines also suffer from the challenge of too much choice, both within targeted websites and across the internet. Businesses can offer filters to organize results by price, chronology, brand and type, and can create sorting mechanisms and categories within the searches to help customize results.
Help your consumers decide what they need by giving them the details they want.
In the digital arena, consumers rely heavily on third-party reviews and recommendations to sort through the options and choices they have to make. The more expensive the purchase, the more difficult the decision and the greater possibility for paralysis and regret. To combat this, consumers turn to reviews, comparisons and product history to gather additional information. While brands have relatively little control over these third-party feedback sites, which are growing considerably in popularity and sophistication, they can play a role in guiding consumers toward the sorts of information they actually need. Rather than overload consumers with too many technical details or side-by-side product comparisons of features that they don’t care about, brands must offer consumers the facts that are relevant to them and their needs.
To do so, brands must know their target consumers. This can help customize search features online to bring up data that simplify choice and ease consumers through the purchase process. It is vital for brands to remain true to their ethos and values; rather than looking for a quick sale, they must be open about who they are and what they have to offer. This sense of authenticity—which includes giving consumers access to negative reviews and critical feedback—leaves consumers with a positive association with the brand and its products, and confidence in the reviews themselves. While a given product may not be right in the short term, openness and authenticity limit purchase regret and bring consumers back to the product in the future.
Not all reviews—and not all reviewers—are equally useful to a given customer. Influencers play a significant role in the research that people do and how they make their decisions. Bearing in mind the goal of creating simplicity and offering meaningful information, brands can create more customized feedback that speaks directly to the needs of the consumer. Disney Parks Mom’s Panel, for example, is a group of veteran Disney travelers who answer questions and offer trip planning guidance to fellow parents interested in a Disney vacation. The panel is organized by Disney but it allows its participants totally autonomy and independence in answering questions and giving advice. Like all influencers, the details that they communicate are often the ones that people really want and need. The moms are trustworthy advisors rather than brand ambassadors, offering customized suggestions and critiques that speak directly to the needs and criteria of other moms. This group simplifies the overwhelming process of planning a vacation, allowing Disney vacations to offer even more choices to its consumers while helping them make decisions rather than be paralyzed by the options available.