In the market with umpteen me-too products and brands marketers have few choices with how to develop, maintain and enhance relationships with their customers. The situation is worsened with multiplicity of communication channels including online (internet based) marketing and offline marketing and advertising.
The increasing pace of media innovations is hard to keep up with. Added to that, marketers hardly know what is the ROI on most communication mix (advertising, sales promotions, direct marketing and others) avenues. Therefore it becomes further difficult for marketers to balance and achieve the targets on their communications budget.
When facing such market reality, the marketers are left with two real choices:
1. Convince the consumers; or
2. Confuse the consumers
The convincing part requires increasing effort to develop and maintain because of the market complexities and therefore many marketers are driving their skills and organizational resources in confusion the consumers.
For example, if you wish to buy a mobile phone have a look at what happens?
You have more than:
a) six – ten mobile phone service operators (depending on the country)
b) twenty different mobile phone brands (with increasing numbers every year)
c) thousand different price plans
d) thousand different mobile phones types (with phenomenal number of features)
The marketers claim that this choice provides consumers with the freedom. However, in one of their seminal papers Simonson and Tversky( 1992) claimed that consumers hardly can judge and value the products they choose.
In case of such product choices (i.e. mobile phones) instead of freedom the overchoice creates consumer confusion.
The case of confusion exists in almost every product we purchase in today’s marketplace.
So, the revised adage for today’s marketplace seems to be Confuse them and confuse them more…
In the coming posts, I shall focus on the concept of consumer confusion and how it affects our choice process. I shall also focus on managerial implications of consumer confusion and how managers can avoid causing confusion.