When a major manufacturer wanted to debut a new “Internet of Things” garage door opener, it included many time-saving and high-tech features. The idea was to make the it simple, automatic and multi-function. It’s Wi-Fi enabled. Who wouldn’t want those features in every aspect of their automated home, let alone in one of the most-worried about appliances? “Honey, you closed the garage door when we left, right?”
In theory, the answer is everyone wants this. This is the appliance the future has promised us. But it’s always good to put some data behind that. Ipsos was brought in to test the concept of the product early in the development process. Consumers were asked about purchase intent on a five-point scale of “Definitely would not buy” to “Definitely would buy.” Additionally, Ipsos tapped into its behavioral economics know-how. Consumers often have quick, automatic and involuntary responses to new products that are conscious. Using several open-ended questions and measuring the responses with text analytics, Ipsos realized the marketer had a couple of problems with the concept.
The innovations customers want and need
First, including the new technology pushed the cost of the device up, higher than competitive products without those features. Of those who weren’t interested in the product, price was the most-cited reasons. “No need” and “happy with what I have” were also big factors.
Objection to price is a foreseeable obstacle for marketers, and one they’re used to confronting and overcoming. The “No need” kind of responses suggest another issue, the so-called “status quo bias.” Consumers tend to stick with what they are used to already and resist new products. This can be a higher hurdle for marketers to overcome.
“Most companies fall short in addressing the barriers that cause consumers to stay with existing products even in the face of appealing new benefits,” said Ipsos’ Colin Ho. “Consumers’ may perceive drawbacks in the new product that manufacturers did not anticipate. While manufacturers often see only the incremental benefits offered in their new introductions, consumers see a tradeoff.”
In this case, some of the new benefits also weren’t that appealing. In the text analysis, Ipsos uncovered something unexpected. The great tech features introduced in the product didn’t resonate with consumers in the way the maker expected. The customers honed in, instead, on the negative aspects: A loss of control from the automated features and a worry that the Wi-Fi, center to the new products’ offering, could be hacked.
Behavioral economics teaches that people are more worried about losing what they have than gaining something new. That is clearly at play in this research, where the drawbacks and the customer inertia off-set positive feelings toward “modern technology” and “ease of use.” In order for brands to overcome this, marketing need to focus less on the product itself and more on the impact the product has on the life of the customer.
Addressing the positive selling points is not enough, Dr. Ho said, “Focus on motivators to the exclusion of overcoming barriers has the potential to cripple the success of a new product.”