Have you ever paused to consider why your customers choose your products over the closest competitor? If you really think about it, what sets your products apart? In many respects, they’re exactly the same. Well, in an effort to understand your business better, you must understand your target customers and why they are or aren’t choosing your products.
5 Non-Product Factors That Influence Purchase Decisions
When it comes to choosing one product versus another, consumers – whether consciously or subconsciously – weigh a variety of factors. In an effort to organize these factors, it would be appropriate to create two distinct categories. There are product factors and non-product factors.
Product factors are directly related to the product itself. For example, if you’re shopping for a mop and you find two similar products on the shelf, you may choose one mop over the other because it’s made from sturdier materials. That’s a product factor.
Then you have non-product factors. These are aspects that aren’t directly related to the product itself, but still influence a customer’s decision. Specifically, there are five non-product factors that commonly come into play. From a business perspective, you need to consider these as much as you do the product factors.
The brand name is huge – and we’re not just talking about brand equity. The way the brand name sounds and the images it evokes both impact the purchase decision. That’s why coming up with good company names is such a crucial task when launching a brand or product.
Using the mop example, would you be more likely to purchase a mop sold by the brand name Pure and Clean Solutions or Products Ltd. The first evokes strong imagery, while the latter is boring and non-descriptive – most would choose the first.
In physical retail environments, product placement is hugely important. You’re obviously going to see much better results if your product is on an end cap in a highly trafficked area of the store versus tucked away on the bottom shelf in a back corner. This has nothing to do with the product itself, but is totally related to location.
For ecommerce businesses, product placement looks a little different. If you’re selling on Amazon.com, then placement is all about getting your product listing on the first page or in the side bar. You’re much likelier to earn sales in these positions than if you’re hidden on the fifth or sixth page.
While some would argue packaging is a product related factor, most would agree it’s a non-product factor. If you remove the packaging and dispose of it in order to access the product, it’s not part of the product itself. With that being said, you should spend a considerable amount of time and effort perfecting packaging if you want to grab attention and positively influence purchase decisions.
According to Yasushi Kusume, the innovation and creative manager for IKEA and other leading brands, product packaging must do three things. First, it needs to stand out and grab the audience’s attention. Second, it should encourage a purchase by conveying a unique and relevant value proposition. Third, it should fit with your brand’s positioning and remain authentic to your overall stance.
In an age where social media is king, word of mouth marketing is the key to promoting and maintaining a positive reputation. “Customers don’t give much weight to seller messages anymore,” writes business expert Kristin Zhivago. “They talk directly to each other. What your current customers are saying about you will either help you sell more – or drive away business.”
If you can develop a positive brand reputation in the marketplace, you’ll be able to influence customer purchase decisions more frequently. People will look at your product, recall what others have said, and choose you over the competition. In many cases, a positive reputation can even offset deficiencies in other areas.
The fifth non-product factor that buyers consider is pricing. The challenge here is determining just how price sensitive your target market is. In some industries, price is the number one non-product factor. In others, it plays a very minimal role.
For example, a customer buying a mop may be very price sensitive. If one mop is $9.99 and the other is $24.99, chances are they’ll choose the cheaper option. However, if you’re selling $75,000 convertibles, a couple thousand dollars in difference may not matter much.
Looking at the Big Picture
As you know, a product’s success depends on a multitude of factors. You can’t hone in on a single one and expect to be successful. If you really want to influence purchase decisions, you need to look at the big picture and consider both product and non-product factors. When it comes to the latter, you’ll want to keep these five factors in mind.
A couple of points you’ve made merit some further discussion. First, even physical, tangible, rational product features have non-product, or emotional, subtexts that are more about the experience than the product itself Sturdiness, for example, is more about trust and assurance in use based on customer expectations. That emotion, if it is strong enough, creates a (positive or negative) memory which, in turn, drives downstream behavior. A customer might have lower emotional expectations of an inexpensive mop’s sturdiness; however, if that same customer bought an expensive “Miracle Mop” (I’ve just seen the movie, Joy, which featured its invention), then the emotions associated with its use could be stronger, one way or the other.
Next, I’d add employee interaction as a sixty non-product factor, particularly in a direct sales situation, such as a car, TV, flooring, or an appliance.
Finally, I guess I’m not understanding why price is labeled as a non-product factor. That’s news to me, and just about every business professional I’ve ever known. Price isn’t physical, but it is a rational component of any product or service; and, IMHO, the examples you’ve cited don’t make your case particularly well.
The article is very informative and handy. But I think marketing aka advertising also plays a vital role in influencing the decision of the customer. In today’s competition, Price is hardly playing any role because the competitors aren’t competing with price as it’s one’s loss and another’s profit. So I highly doubt price plays any role presently. I would say marketing, packing and advertising plays a very important role.
Very interesting articule but don’t forget that customer behaviour is deeply related to the kind of market they belong to..
I’ve been purchasing products that were influenced by the company brand and online presence but someone keeps taking over the companies I choose to purchase from and messing about with the online presence, layout and handling of my online accounts with those companies. How are my rights to choose as a customer, affected by this, if it is the online presence and brand that I originally took the goods out with that influenced my decision to buy? If a company changes its online presence and support does the consumer have the right of refund of the product or in case of a credit card compensation for being unable to change the card to another company and being forced to remain with them until the credit card has been paid off?