When trying to market a product to new customers, your first instinct might be to espouse as many virtues that your product possesses and hide the flaws as best as one can. However, researchers have suggested that not only does revealing some of your products flaws have a positive affect on consumer perception, it can also be winning formula in the long run.
It turns out letting customers in on a select number of drawbacks to purchasing your product can go a long way in building trust. This may seem counter-intuitive to marketers whose first instinct is to sing praises.
Harvard Business School researchers Ryan W. Buell and MoonSoo Choi found companies can attract more customers who spend more and stick around longer when they lay it all out there; by that we mean explaining the downside of a product. Even better reactions were observed when time was taken to compare products and explain what makes one worse than the other.
“When customers have a more holistic view of the trade-offs of an offering, it helps them make more well-informed choices, which enhances the quality of the customer relationship,” says Buell in the HBS research.
After observing a major bank for some time, the accounts it offered, and what customers bought and used; the researchers found that people who opened an account after they learned the downsides ended up spending about 10 percent more each month than customers who only heard the benefits. After nine months of observation, the cancellation rates of customers who heard the detriments as well as benefits were approximately 21 percent lower than those who just heard the positives.
On top of that, the customers who heard about the drawbacks were better customers. They were 11 percent less likely to make late payments.
However, this doesn’t mean that marketers and sales teams should immediately run out and tell every customer about everything that can or has gone wrong with your products. Just a little exposure wouldn’t hurt. Researchers suggest considering these questions before doing anything too drastic:
Will the flaw reveal a problem we should be fixing anyway?
If the flaw you share is actually something that should, and can be fixed, shore it up. Don’t share something that makes your organisation look like it doesn’t operate efficiently or with trust.
Will the flaw make our competitors feel more appealing?
If the flaw is something your competition can or does capitalise on, because they’re truly better in that area, you don’t want to flaunt it. Instead, you want to minimise it.
Will the comparison paralyze customers?
Letting customers know the whole story builds a transparent relationship. But sometimes too much information is overwhelming and customers abandon the choice altogether because they can’t make a decision. Keep information short and sweet, as information overload can be a huge bother to consumers.