In this post I’m introducing a graphic that explains the term ‘Defensive Marketing’.
This visual is meant to sum up the journey of the interactions in the consumer experience.
The Graphic gives us a glance of what’s going on and I will drill down point by point what it really means and give you more explanations along the way.
Let’s start at the beginning: the consumer experience.
It’s about a purchasing experience with a brand, a product or a service.
The consumer/user/client has some sort of interaction with the entity delivering this experience.
This one experience usually falls into two distinct bucket: Good or Bad.
side-note: Obviously there’s the in-between, referring to ‘normal’ but this one doesn’t interest nobody so it’s not relevant to talk about it.
Let’s start with the good one.
Usually the consumer considers that it’s normal that the experience he gets from his purchase is a ‘good’ one. He made a choice to pick one precise product, service, brand. Thus the ‘goodness’ was expected, it was planned as he offered his time/money/commitment in exchange of it.
So far, so good.
The next step is to talk about it, in a good way. Some naturally open and social people like to talk about their experience to others. Also a great experience encourages people to talk about it and share it. There are several reasons for that: Ego, social capital and recognition from peers to position oneself as a value-provider and a wise person (in his choices) are strong elements that drives this behavior.
This leads us to the following logical step which is recommendation.
We feel like recommending and referring to people we know, the good experience we had. It’s a way to ‘share the good’. Again, here one feels valued and recognized when he recommends a good experience to another, implicitly gladly offering value.
The last step is for the consumer to love so much the product, service, brand that he feels like connecting with the entity responsible for it: compagnie/brand. He engages in a positive way to cheer and praise the brand, wanting to thank them and show some love. This behavior is pushed by the feeling of granting a lot of value and ‘good’ from the purchase, that we feel like giving back. In other word it’s the law of influence called ‘reciprocity’ (coined by R. Cialdini).
All of those scenarios above are good and favorable to brands and companies. Indeed it’s all sort of positive word-of-mouth; the ‘grandaddy’ of the factors that drives success in business.
Thus brands are pushing hard on that front and trying to show off as much as they can that it’s the case for them (more than their competitors) in order to grow and prosper.
It’s free, it’s easy and it’s immensely rewarding.
So what brands only need to do is get themselves in front of people that are ready/willing to buy their products & services, right? And there you go, we’re talking about marketing now:
The art of putting oneself in front of a segment of population that is the most likely to engage, use, buy what the brand can offer to them.
Companies understood that, and we all know how hard they push on it this front. It has indeed become a multi-billion dollar industry on its own. Some big brands spend Billions of dollars every year to create awareness and get in front of people in order to grow sales/revenues.
Ok, now let’s see the bad experience.
Most people have a lot of bad consumer experience on a regular basis. They start to get used to it, and they are not so much offended by it anymore. We call them ‘loyal customers’ as they don’t turn their back to those brand, products, and service; and continue to purchase them regardless of the previous bad experience with them. This is often cause by several factors like: the lack of education, experience, purchasing power and knowledge (of the choices/options).
The biggest reason, most people ‘don’t do anything’ after a bad consumer experience.
What happens is that they weigh the cost/benefit of doing something about it (ie:complaining) vs doing nothing about it (ie: not complaining).
The fact that most people don’t really know how, when, where and whom to complain to, discourage many to actually complain at all. So what most people choose is just to boycott (ie: don’t buy the same thing anymore) like a silent exist.
That’s why we only have -believe it or not- a small percentage of people that are actually complaining (online or offline). We call it the Iceberg of complaints, which we’ll talk about just bellow.
Now it is important to note that, going back to our belief that a good experience is expected and considered as normal, the natural feeling while experiencing a bad one, is to feel like it’s not normal and that we are frustrated in some way, especially because we spent money on it.
That feeling of frustration is the single most important drive of consumer experiences complaint from today in our consumer-oriented society.
So we have a frustration inside from a bad consumer experience, feeling we’ve been ‘mistreated’ in some way, not getting the value for our money.
What do we do from there? Well, the natural human reaction, while having frustration inside is to release it; and we know the easiest way to release an inner-frustration is to express ourselves about it, hence talk about it.
Here we go, that’s why people complain and criticize continually, as a mean to get it out of their head, and release that bad feeling.
The anger is expressed first of all to our closest circle of social connections, our family and friends.The next step is to spread it out beyond that closed circle of few (aka friends and family), to our peers and the rest of our social connections. That’s usually when people go online.
Here is an interesting point, which is the feeling of having to tell more and more people about this bad experience, and feeling of anger against a product, service and brand. There’s some kind of duty in telling others, in order to prevent them to be in your situation. It’s a sort of anticipated empathy to others, sharing your experience to help them have better ones in the future. It’s implicit, but very accurate nonetheless, and most people admit that they feel like wanting to prevent others to feel frustrated like them, and in this process they feel better performing a ‘good social act’… interestingly enough.
The last degree in this ‘bad experience’ reaction from the consumer, is to engage with the brand to ‘fight’. Indeed some people feel so frustrated, mistreated and screwed that they are going to pursue some kind of ‘reparation/revenge’ or said it another way, ‘want their money back’ whatever the currency. This pay-back may be only an apology, a recognition, an acknowledgement, or a capital gain to excuse the whole story. That’s why we see so much ‘voucher’ offered from the customer service, a discount or a special offer just to show off empathy and offer back a capital compensation to the consumer.
In the next blog post we will see what are the reasons that drive most people do complain.