August 2017 archive

Reducing the mental weight of purchase decisions

There is a mental cost to making purchase decisions and having to process options can take its toll, especially when contending with a field that isn’t familiar.

Source http://www.cbc.ca/parents/learning/view/should-i-buy-my-kid-a-cell-phone-a-flowchart

Complex buying considerations. Source cbc.ca

A higher cost purchase can be a factor but the mental energy involved doesn’t necessarily line up with the dollars involved. Consider a few especially tricky decisions and some easy ones, at all different costs.

Weighty decisions
Buying a new car $$$$
Selecting a new phone and plan $$
Hiring a contractor to work on your house $$$
Picking a gift for a new girlfriend $

Easy choices
Vacation souvenirs $$
Specialized products with a clear leader (e.g. WeatherTech car floor liners) $-$$$
Renewing existing services like insurance $$ (Conversely, selecting a new provider can be very taxing.)
Favorite dishes at known restaurants $

Certain purchases can feel like an ordeal. For brands in e-Commerce, the goal is to remove as much of the mental labor required to make a purchase decision. Some of the things that exasperate users and contribute to mental weight include:

  • Opaque costs and terms – it’s mentally taxing to try and figure out where the catches are and how we might be getting taken advantage of.
  • Unfamiliar settings – making decisions in a new city or in an industry new to you can leave you feeling disadvantaged.
  • Convoluted options and dependencies – if it’s too difficult to consider various scenarios, the customer starts to feel overwhelmed.
  • Visibility – if your purchase choice is very public there’s added pressure to get it right.
  • Incomplete information – it’s tougher to make a confident decision with unknowns in play.
  • Unclear product lineup – sorting through tiers of service, model generations and variations can be tough if the differences aren’t well communicated.

Mapping user personas and customer journeys can help to illustrate the state of mind of those who might be considering a specific product or service. Consider how hard they need to work at making a buying choice and how you can reduce some of the mental energy required.

And there are new business opportunities for companies that find a way to make high dollar purchases with difficult purchase processes more enjoyable.