When you were the last time in a mall, going through the shops; with a scent or aroma around the place – it might be of a perfume, the smell of popcorn and its sound popping and children with joy are eating it, or it might be of the smell of fresh fruits of the supermarket which is allocated right at the center of the mall.
You go through the shops, and you find this trendy place where they sell the latest fashion of clothes – you step in enticed with the discount banner on the door, or maybe if you have a particular taste in fashion you might consider going to the shop with no discounts as it might affect the overall genre of your mood of feeling good about what you buy being expensive.
Then, you go through the many clothes, trying them on once, and just picking a few – but you promised yourself you will be going to the movies after shopping, so you go to the coffee shop ordering your regular drink, enjoying it till the movie’s time is on.
If we examine the mentioned buying process of products, we can understand that the product or service received is not the core of it – it is the experience that people buy and not the products. It is when we realize that it is part of our life to buy a particular type of clothes or just visit the shop which sells it – the main concept is not in buying that piece of clothes, but the series of situations which leads to the creation of an experience.
What brands usually do is that they focus on selling the brand itself as merely the products and services being provided, but customers purchase not only the brand but the emotions, the experiences –commodities turn from being products into packed emotions with perceived values, benefits, and an overall personal understanding of a brand.
That being said, there are other determinants to the buying experience equation; the fact of price consciousness might lead the buyer (the customer) into focusing on more than the emotional value of what is being purchased to trail lower than the emotional perception into the utilitarian perception.
The question then changes from how does this product make me feel into how am I going to benefit from this product. Two different questions that are based on the type of product/service, the difference between micro and macro markets (niche and mass markets), and the type of competitors in the market (are the products in the market being differentiated based on their price or quality).
This takes us to online shopping that most of the customers worldwide tend to buy products and/or services online – what makes an online shopping experience? The smell of the aroma or scent in our example of brick and mortar shopping is equivalent to the ease of entry to the website, the colors used, the wordage and how easy they are to read.
The many shops are the offerings on the website; the promise of going to the movies is the other websites which will be visited after shopping online – your break at the coffee shop is the ads on the website, and how they complete the whole online shopping experience.
This leads to another question: if all things equal and if the shopping experience is the core and products are obsolete, how brands can position themselves to transcend beyond their physical offering to the emotional benefits associated with more than the utilitarian use of the products and/or services; the answer is in purposeful positioning.
Purposeful positioning can be summed in the below:
1.The brand is not the product or services – it is the customers and locations:
When we think of a brand we have to think of the customers who will purchase from that brand; the shared common experiences, the common decision making process, the common way of understanding values and emotions. These commonalities are the basis of what makes a customer buy from a certain brand, what s/he will buy, and what s/he is going to do with the purchases (which is also a major factor in the buying process).
The location is the determinant of the buying behavior; we as customers buy from a particular shop because it is located in a particular place – the same customers might not buy from that shop if it is located in another place (it is how they feel about the place which reflects in their buying experiences).
2.The brand is not the products or services, but the culture
When we buy a particular product or service, we do that to belong to a particular group, a particular culture, or a particular common use of the product or service. Major brands contribute towards the creation of a culture where their products and services can be used; other brands are directed towards the innovator customers who turn these products into a culture by itself.
The most important thing is when the products of a brand are turned into a culture; it might lead to the focus on a particular product offered by the brand – which might affect the other line of products offered as well. However, major brands create limits for the users where the culture is predefined as per created and not as per their usage of the products or services.
3.The brand is not only the price, it is how customers feel about it
As previously mentioned, price consciousness might be a determining factor in the buying process, but purposeful positioning is about transcending beyond the concept of comparison between a particular brand and another based only on the price.
For example, any product of Apple whatever price is offered, people will still buy – the brand’s customers have a blocked price consciousness decision making, as they understand the value of the products offered.
The overall market-based marketing shifted the focus from the products and services offered by a particular brand into how the brand is perceived, its value; it is major brands who transcend their offering from what they provide to what makes customers want from a the brand and its products and services – it is the overall shopping experience what matters whether it is brick and mortar or online.
Where to find Dr. Islam Gouda,