Keep it simple, stupid

Keep it simple, stupid or K.I.S.S., if you like acronyms, is one of the oldest rules in the book, but one that is becoming more rather than less important to marketers as retail gets more competitive and technology encroaches on every aspect of consumer experience.


Almost nine in 10 (87%) people would be more likely to recommend a brand they consider ‘simple’ to a friend than one more complex according to new research seen by Marketing Week and explored in this week’s feature ‘Why clear lines of communication get positive response’.

It’s no surprise that the top 10 brands in the Simplicity Index, compiled by Siegel + Gale, includes retail brands such as Amazon and John Lewis.
If new technologies aren’t easy to use and shopping channels don’t work together in a simple and intuitive way they are almost as useless as not adopting new technologies at all.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when things get over complicated, consumers will give up and go elsewhere.

Siegel + Gale’s research also showed that consumers would be willing to pay a premium of more than 5% for a simpler experience with a brand, which shows that simple doesn’t have to mean no frills.

In John Lewis’ case, the “simplicity” it offers customers comes from the transparency embedded in its Never Knowingly Undersold pledge. Lloyd Page, head of marketing and brand, says it’s this “clarity” of message that appeals to consumers.

Pair that clarity with the high standard of customer service, quality products, and the investment John Lewis is making to ensure that its multichannel business offers the utmost in convenience, and it’s obvious why John Lewis continues to thrive despite perceptions that it prices are a little higher.

Online retailers have been particularly prone to the traps of overcomplicated systems. Basket abandonment rates, when online shoppers don’t make it through to the final purchase stage of an online order, reached 71% in 2011 according to research firm Forrester.

This shows that there’s an incredible amount of business being lost because online systems don’t make things easy enough for shoppers to complete their purchase.

Amazon, however, has built its business around making the shopping experience as simple as possible for customers.

It has introduced one click buying, the Prime membership scheme and its recommendation platform that suggest other products shoppers might like, all to ease customers’ path to purchase and cut the number of abandoned baskets.

It can be tempting to adopt every new technology going or add layers to marketing and promotions with additional offers and services, but if all that serves to do is complicate the experience for shoppers, marketers should steer clear and keep it simple.

Read the full feature ‘Why clear lines of communication get positive response’ here.

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