Buying products and services is an everyday activity for most people, but it’s been changing fast — and the change has been driven by four forces that three of my Forrester colleagues and I highlighted in Vast, Fast, And Relentless: The Future Of How People Buy. The four of us are now also each writing a blog post about one of those four forces, and the one I’m focusing on is how product experiences are becoming the drivers of demand. What this is about is that selling a product or a service used to require persuading — via word of mouth or reviews or promotions, for example, but increasingly:
- Consumers are trying experiences without having to commit as much beforehand — not much up-front payment and no lock-in. That’s happened for years in some ways through rentals and subscriptions. But think of Spotify, Bird, Rent the Runway, Stitch Fix, and Joymode. They’re using innovative pricing and distribution models to expand that to more categories . . .
- . . . which is making retention an even more important revenue driver, rather than acquisition. Because you need to get consumers to want to continue using the product or service, not just buy it once . . .
- . . . and that’s motivating companies to focus more on the quality of the experience itself as the engine of growth, rather than on trying to persuade people to buy. Marketing still helps make consumers aware of a product and maybe try it the first time, but that’s it. Whether they decide to stick with a product or service — or abandon it — is a result of their perceptions of its ease, effectiveness, and emotional impact — the core of the customer experience.
Take a look at the graphic below for a visualization of what I’m talking about in terms of a classic customer lifecycle model: After the explore phase of the customer lifecycle, there are many microcycles of paying, using, and asking.
What does this mean for your company? Download our complimentary guide on the future of B2C buying. If you’re a client, take a look at our report: “Vast, Fast, And Relentless: Consumer Buying Enters A New Era.”