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The Here and Now Consumer Technology Buyer

Service Takes a Back Seat in Today’s Disposable World

By Bob Johnson

Today, most manufacturers work to balance product quality/reliability against driving down unit costs. The game is all about competitive price points that align with increasingly impulsive consumer purchase behavior. While we still hear buyers lament that “they don’t make them like they used to”, buyer tendencies show they have no one but themselves to blame.

Recent research by IDG Connect of over 400 consumers making purchase decisions of notebooks, tablets and smartphones reveals key purchase decision factors: reliability, price, features and performance. The findings note that service and support are no longer relatively important. They fall at the bottom of purchase considerations with an era of disposable devices where making repairs are often more expensive than getting a replacement.

Consumers are most often driven towards a new purchase to replace an outdated or broken device. Others simply want to have the latest device or save time. No other driving force comes close to these three objectives. It seems clear that consumers have a short-term memory, complain about malfunctions but most seem to evolved towards a use it, abuse it and lose it mentality. Manufacturers soften the blow with prices that continue to decline and build programs where replacing appears more cost effective than repair. Set against this reality, vendors want to know what content exerts the greatest influence towards an offering to drive more impulsive behavior. Here are the top three.

Consumers look to independent voices for reviews, preview responses to frequently asked questions posed by peers and seek competitive comparisons. All three avenues highlight the relative importance of social media in the digital content equation. But it also matters how you time the emphasis of each.

Offer independent product/service reviews at every point in the decision process from when the buyer first gets an idea of alternatives, justifies the purchase, compares alternatives or makes a shortlist of finalists. But don’t just offer them in a random manner. If an independent review presents your offering as a category leader, put that stamp of legitimacy front and center early as buyers obtain a general overview or education. For answers to frequently asked questions, strive to offer them at the middle stage where the buyers assesses alternatives in detail, something which is also true for competitive comparisons. And, according to buyers, those content preferences remain consistent regardless of information access via notebook, tablet or smartphone.

But you must have good, relevant content in order to win the sale. Almost half state that if you don’t offer what they need to know from the sources they favor, your offering is almost 50% less likely to make to the shortlist. Given the average purchase process lasts only fifteen days in total the demand for relevance becomes even more pronounced as there is little chance to recover from a poor first impression.

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Bob Johnson

VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect

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