It’s the little things that matter

A colleague came stumbling to my desk this morning looking like he was about to pass out, he managed to gasp out the words ‘coffee. now. must go. now.’ And so we immediately left to get a much needed dose of caffeine.

After he’d gulped down most of his double-shot latte and ordered another I asked him what on earth had happened to put him in such a state.

Which mug do you like more?

Turns out he and his wife decided to change which side of the bed they slept on because he wanted the fan on and she didn’t. (Why he didn’t move the fan I don’t know.)

It turns out both he and his wife had a terrible nights sleep because it was just so far out of whack from the normal. I asked if this happens when they travel too. The answer, surprisingly was no – that’s different he said, there’s no set routine, but at home it’s a different matter.

This is a great example of something larger than just a couple having a bad night sleep if you think about it in relation to a business and consumer. They were perfectly happy with their routine until it changed. It changed for the worse and now they’re going back to the way it was. And that’s fine where they have control of the variables.

But what about companies that change their product? Does change mean consumers will simply look for the updated packaging and carry-on unquestionably buying the same product? Or does change break the routine and suddenly create a choice that wasn’t previously there? Does it mean that the consumer now has to, on some level, pause and re-evaluate their buying decision process?

The impact of change on a consumer’s routine, when so many buying decisions are arbitrary, is crucial to understanding the buying process and something worth investing a time and research in. Companies both large and small perform hours and hours of research and focus groups specifically to try and understand consumer impact. A focus group I recently attended focused on virtually nothing else other than the shape of the bottle – should it be slender, bottom heavy, top heavy etc.

When you’re reviewing your product range and looking for boost, rather than focusing on changing anything about the product don’t assume that change is good necessarily – remember that people are purchasing your products for a reason. Think about where your product is placed placed or how your product could be perceived, rather than how consumers are currently seeing it. A couple of great examples of this have been highlighted in the videos below:

Seth Godin on standing out

And Rory Sutherland – life lessons from an ad-man. The part where he talks about Shreddies at the 12 minute mark.

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