Helping customers to make up their minds

Alan Mitchell is astute to point out the commercial cost of providing too much “choice” to us poor beleaguered consumers (“Emotional or rational, choice has never been so expensive”, MW last week).

However, streamlined processes are not the answer. The answer lies in marketers spending the time and trouble to be clear about who their consumers are, and then clearly communicating with that market.

We live in a world where choice has exploded, but also where our ability to reach a targeted market has also become massively more sophisticated. As just one piece of evidence to back this up, the volume of a direct-mail campaign averaged over 150,000 four years ago. That has now dropped to under 90,000.

This puts enormous pressure on marketers to identify who their consumers are. But the tools with which to do so are also now very powerful. There has never been so much information available to marketers on British consumers.

The trouble is, many marketers have yet to wake up to that fact. Some, brought up in the old school of creative glitz without measurable results, will be culturally unable to come up to the mark. Others, more willing and able to change, are already doing so with a rapidity that indicates how clearly they see the writing on the wall.

However, it is also a form of marketing laziness to think that we can successfully let customers tell us every detail of what they want, and therefore how to do our jobs.

Marketing, at its best, creates inspiring brands that persuade people to do something that they have never done before.

Bewildering the customer with enormous choice just will not achieve this.

Shane Baylis Managing director KDB

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