The Strange Case of Not Knowing Why Your Product or Service is Purchased

Recently we have been requested by more clients to apply our behavioral economics research techniques to determine the true motivators of our clients’ products or services.  In other words, WHY their products or services are being bought and not those of their competitors.  These clients come to us with only the vaguest notion of this motivation, magical thinking such as “Customers are buying for the reasons we provide them in our communication” or passing the buck such as “We already know this, so why do we need to revisit it now?”

Unfortunately, “explanations” of the WHY OF PURCHASE which do not come from the buyer allow competitors to put your brand in a positioning “box” where your brand will lose because that’s the way the “game” is played. 

What are the causes of not knowing why your brand is purchased? Believe it or not, some organizations don’t know why their brand is purchased or why it is not because they feel they don’t need to.  For example, explanations that the business is “running fine and revenues are up,” “We are the “600-pound gorilla,” “We are the market leader” justify not asking buyers why they bought.  However, if you are not monitoring and controlling the reasons for the purchase of your brand, eventually your competitors will.

Are there signs that the WHY OF PURCHASE is not sufficiently understood?  Some clues are such as “We did that a couple of years ago, it’s probably still the same now,” “I’m sure our messaging is why people buy, it’s always worked before,” “Our agency is in charge of that, I’m sure they know why people are buying” or “We have lots of behavioral data, that gives us the where, when and how.” Eventually, another question will be asked for which there will be no immediate answer – “Why aren’t our sales what they were last year; is it because our advertising isn’t working as well as it did then?”

Is there something about the WHY OF PURCHASE that allows it to perceived as unimportant?  Of course, it is of no value to the brand unless something is done with it, e.g. it supports new product development, new selling proposition/positioning, new messaging content, etc.  This makes the WHY OF PURCHASE the trigger for more work.  Since “more work” is really the improvement of what is currently in place, doing “more work” requires an admission that what was in place was not good enough.  Unfortunately for many, obtaining the WHY OF PURCHASE means questioning current performance rather than staying on top of the needs of a changing market.  

Another factor limiting the use of the WHY OF PURCHASE, is its validity. Some clients come to us with the complaint that they either can’t use their WHY OF PURCHASE because of its complexity or behavior-only nature, or have tried to use it and have seen no improvement in performance.  If the latter is the case, the validity of the information is, appropriately, called into question. Unfortunately, most of these cases are the result of using out-of-date and potentially biased methodology, not updating the data that are collected or both. 

Fortunately, the validated BrandEmbrace® service provides a clear and unbiased explanation of WHY your brand and your competitors are purchased and how to best defend your buyers and poach from another brand. This proven validity of BrandEmbrace® to obtain the accurate WHY OF PURCHASE assures performance improvement with its use.

Picture by Deanna Alys