Networked ‘now’ buttons spur sales

Hypothetical magic buttons made people buy more and leads to the assumption that ‘now’ buttons could be bigger than we thought

Networked ‘now’ buttons spur sales

Marketers have always enjoyed using a smattering of emotive words to describe their products and services. Traditional idioms over the years have included "super" and "extra."

Now there’s a new come-on out there tumbling from the copywriters’ keyboards. And that word is "now," as in Amazon Prime Now, HBO Now, PlayStation Now and Google Now, points out market research firm Dscout.

This declaration of "now" is about “instant information, instant credit, instant connection, instant stuff on my doorstep,” and it is what consumers are starting to expect, say researchers at Dscout, which has been studying what it thinks is a shift in consumer expectation to instant everything.

“Like interactivity, mobile and ‘smart’ technologies before it, ‘instant access’ is becoming a consumer expectation, and it's expected to be worth billions,” writes Kari Dean McCarthy in a Dscout blog post.

In reality, though, many "now" things aren't instantaneous. Consumers generally can’t “instantly purchase and receive almost anything in the very moment they most need it.” There’s “friction” between the promise of "now" and the reality. For example, physical stuff will take at least day to arrive, or the digital media stream will require a forgotten password to be recovered or a better broadband connection, say.

But is spending getting left on the table because of the friction? Consumers want something, but because it’s hard to obtain, or not instant, they lose interest—or didn’t really want it anyway, even though they thought they did at the time. They change their mind and just don’t buy it.

To find out, Dscout devised a study in which it offered a hypothetical magic button to purchasing participants. Press the button to get the stuff immediately. Think an instant version of Amazon Dash. Amazon Dash is a Wi-Fi button that re-orders favorite products.

In some cases, the magic button was removed. Without that button, Dscout says it found that “80 percent of ‘urgent’ needs” don’t lead to an “immediate purchase.”

One reason is that the need was “short-lived” or “deemed not truly a need after all—the need was found to be easily remedied another way, or the specific purchase required more thought.” In other words, the sale could have been made if there had been a magic button.

Some fascinating revelations: Without a magic button, 31 percent of the respondents simply wouldn’t buy a specific product; 50 percent said they’d just buy it later; and 19 percent indicated they’d move hell or high water to get it now anyway.

That half who said they’d buy it later had long-term needs, such as a need for toilet paper. In other words, the items weren’t spur-of-the-moment whims—they needed the stuff, so they had to wait, whether they liked it or not.

Interestingly, the 31 percent who simply wouldn’t buy the product without the magic button hadn’t just lost interest in some cases. The button actually was integral to the purchasing decision. For example, “Your house needs to be cleaned, and you'd sure like it done now. But absent a housecleaner ringing your doorbell right now, you'll just clean it yourself.”

Look for plenty of internet-connected magic buttons appearing in our lives soon.

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