This article is a follow up to my earlier article in which I talk about my journey to buying a new camera. This post will make much more sense if you have gone through that one though I have tried to keep references to earlier posts to a minimum. Here’s the link: http://www.themarketers.in/?p=2210
Now let us look at the entire story wearing a marketer’s hat. First and foremost, this case epitomizes a consumer’s journey in consumer durables category. So much so that even if I don’t mention the product/category, it shouldn’t take much effort to figure it out.
A major pointer is the duration and effort put in the decision making, also called as Involvement. In a FMCG setup purchases are either done before the need arises (as in the weekly/monthly shopping of detergents and soaps) or done within a short span of time after the need is felt (need for a cold beverage) or are induced by visible merchandise at the
point of purchase. On the contrary, for durables the level of involvement is pretty high, and more often than not includes multiple visits to outlets selling them. Consumers actively seek information from various sources not just about the product features but also comparative information on price, after sales service and delivery options (for bulky items). Generally speaking, involvement is higher for costlier items and technology driven categories like televisions, digital Cameras, mobile phones, computers/laptops etc.
Another peculiar thing about this category is that there were TV ads about other products from the brand but not for DSLRs. I did see a few print ads in newspapers and some photography magazines. But there was a plethora of information available on the web, especially on discussion forums. This is in line with the finding that word-of-mouth is a key influencer to purchase in this category.
A picture is worth a thousand words; an experience worth a million! – Shashank Bajaj (Fellow Marketer)
Product demo is another key factor which pushes a brand from consideration set to purchase basket. And people at Canon realize that and thus have Canon Image Stores, which have various camera models available to be tried out. Though most of dealers will let you play around with the product a bit, but a complete store solely devoted to experience various products along with all possible add-ons (lenses and stuff) is truly revolutionary. Without the pressure of closing the sale, the experience delivered is way superior to the traditional scheme of things.
There are a few consumer perceived risks associated with high a ticket purchase. These are generally categorized as Functional, Financial, Physical, Psychological, Social and Time based. Physical can be understood as risk posed by product to one’s well being e.g. “Is fast food healthy or does it lead to obesity and other problems?” An example of social risk would be: “Will my friends laugh at my pink shirt?” Time based risk deals with the risk of spending time in searching for another product if this one doesn’t work well. Risks evident in this particular case are Functional and Financial. Functional risk refers to the product not performing as expected (e.g. “Will the touch screen of my phone work even after heavy usage?”) and financial risk refers to not getting enough value for money and perception that something cheaper might be available which can serve the same purpose (e.g. “Is there a camera model in the market which offers the same features but at a lower price?”). To deal with financial risk, people generally seek more information as I discussed earlier. To minimize functional risks, people generally prefer brands they have already used before and are satisfied with. That might have been one of the major reasons why I went for Canon over Nikon.
Another noteworthy concept in the narration is that of Cognitive Dissonance, as pointed out by my fellow Marketers and our readers. It is fairly common where products have a lot of feature combinations and consumers generally have to make trade-offs between them. It refers to the uncomfortable feeling post-purchase that a competing brand would have been better. Brands use various means to allay such fears and one of them is to stay in touch with the buyers/consumers and build lasting relationships.
To build relationships with their existing customers, Canon has a website called Canon Edge (http://www.canon.co.in/edge/) which provides their customers with a forum to engage with other Canon owners; showcase and discuss their photographs and hone their skills. A quick tour through the website will tell you why this is a great way of using a Social CRM tool to reduce cognitive dissonance and build loyalty.