Intensify Customer Experience by Interruptions – But Do It Right.

“Interruptions? “- you say. “How come? Aren’t we supposed to provide a seamless and consistent experience? “Yes, you are, but add some “time away” for the consumer to start missing that pleasure.”

In two new studies, researchers who study consumer behavior argue that interrupting an experience, whether dreary or pleasant, can make it significantly more intense,” – says New York Times, Research columnist, Benedict Carey. The cause is rooted in the necessary opposing duality of our experiences that help us sharpen and distinguish among our perceptions. In other words, if you always lived in luxury, you might see it as a norm that gets boring and so “everyday”. Examples, would be occupational choices of people, who grew up wealthy, to pursue the lives of pioneers in underdeveloped countries or people who grew up in small towns, striving to live in “megapolislike” cities.

The concept is as old as the world, but why do we forget about it so often? Because, as marketers, we are so focused on listening to our customers, “who actually do not know what makes them happy most of the times”, and let our own thinking guard disregard the basics of consumer behavior and psychology.  Even here, the balance is the key, psychology findings and consumer insights must be “interrupted” & “diluted” by each other’s informational value that we can use in our marketing efforts.

 “Over the years, psychological research has found that people are not always so clear on what makes them happy. When reporting on their own well-being, they exhibit a kind of equilibrium: After a loss (divorce, say) or a gain (a promotion), they typically return in time to about the same happiness level as before. Humans habituate quickly, to hardship and prosperity, to war and peace. Yet even modest pleasures — a cup of coffee in the morning, an afternoon walk, a Scotch before bed — seem to follow a law of diminishing returns.”

 So if it is natural for us humans to ride the waves of ups and downs, as consumers we would be so happy to follow the pattern.  Though, this research is primarily focused on commercials and TV programs as products “to miss” – try to reflect this concept against the general consumption of your product or service. 

What are the product management strategies available to play on that evolutionary phenomenon?

- Launching “exclusive” editions to make the supply very much demanded. But, do as you say – do not make exclusive editions available for all – otherwise, the tactic will not work.

- Adding novel experiences to the product use, or purchase experience. Start selling your service online or make it available on mobile phones. Integrate it in some other product.

- Setting “usage levels” to basic, professional and advanced accounts, with features and benefits exponentially increasing in accordance to product price.

What are the marketing strategies available to play on that evolutionary phenomenon?

- Changing the advertising themes & channels – mix it up, change colors, a spokesperson and music to your ads.

- Use “pulse” schedule for your product message publishing – it will add the excitement and even save your advertising/publishing dollars.

- Frame your product usage message around an opposing life event – use the contrast to enhance the value perception of your brand.

There could be a limitless number of ideas generated if you dwell on this concept for a while and see what you are doing today for your product and service and how you can evolve it in the future. Make it a part of your marketing and product management reviews and you will keep your customers in a delighted state much longer.

All in all, take your customer’s wish at a grain of salt, especially when they say “I just wish I never had to watch a commercial.”

P.S. If you want more detail on this study, find this paper in the Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 36, August 2009.