Businesses do it all the time; discounting the impact of loyalty and longevity for the thrill of the sale today. As a society we have almost come to terms with it; business has become about profit at all costs no matter what. Selling a product should be a source of pride because of the satisfaction that is brought to the customer. Under these circumstances how do you expect the average consumer to respond to companies these days? The average company doesn’t show even the least bit of concern for their customers. Profits and volumes are driving the world in an unhealthy way. Operating in bad faith and without all shareholders in mind will always be unhealthy no matter what the quarterly reports say.
This unhealthy mentality has now crept in and cemented itself in the minds of our consumers. Sadly, for the minority of business operators who are earnestly trying to maintain integrity and quality in their products and services, it is the consumer who can now share in the blame for creating an unhealthy set of behaviors and habits in the marketplace.
So what can we do as corporate citizens to protect our reputations and profit margins against self-proclaimed faultless consumers who feel like the victims of American greed and corruption? Rebuild the trust that has been lost!
Consumers often operate in bad faith and dishonesty in order to feel compensated for their own purchasing errors. These errors include Under-Buying, Over-Buying, and Mis-Buying. Any three of these errors can cause a consumer to feel slighted and in need of justification.
Under-Buying leaves consumers feeling that the product they bought was not sufficient. Consumer retribution for this purchasing mistake includes bad product reviews due to misapplication. Under-Buying is so prevalent in our economy because many consumers need to do more with less. The problem is most products are not “one size fits all”! While this tactic sometimes works, the consumer will always want to return the product when possible if it doesn’t fit the bill. As a company, if you are passionate about and value your products, seeing them in a resale store or being trashed in online reviews is painful.
Over-Buying is ego driven impulse spending. After the euphoria condensates, consumers are left with a product they don’t really need or want. The anger with the product is a derivative of the impulse. These products usually have limited or exclusive return policies that result in even more anger with the manufacturer. Some products are about exclusivity and dropping the price and quality to let them into everyone’s home is damning to your name and reputation as a premier manufacturer.
Mis-Buying is also a function of economics, but instead of Under-Buying the consumer errantly tries to substitute the product they purchase for something other than its intended use. The dissatisfaction creates a negative opinion of a perfectly good product on the basis of its perceived ineffectiveness.
Guiding consumers to avoid any of these purchasing traps can be as simple as proper product placement and respectful price points. Even with all the marketing information and education available to the consumer the reality is that we are serving a cynical and jaded customer base. The best resolution is building the trust in the market place that we all once had for our favorite products.
Preserving our corporate reputation has become more about reducing liability than making good quality long-lasting products. Our reputations should always be representative of our body of work and how we delivery it. Too many corporations focus on profit margin and volume; hazardously forgetting about the consumer. This type of consumer neglect will lead to a loss in loyalty, which will subsequently lead to a disloyal customer base. Having a customer base that is indifferent to your success will be more damaging to your precious profit margin than any value driven design or production decision could ever salvage.
Get the Word Out,
Our society needs to be realigned with respect to taking responsibility for poor decisions. Under-Buying, Over-Buying, and Mis-Buying are all the result of poor decisions. This premise of owning our problems is so much bigger than consumer responsibility; it is possibly our greatest fault as 21st Century Americans.