Earlier in the week Matt Wade – a Sydney Morning Herald journalist – wrote about the impact the ‘IKEA’ effect had on consumers during some experiments conducted by behavioural economists.
The researchers found that IKEA’s strategy of ‘do it yourself’ uncovered a key consumer trait: that people attach much more value to something they build themselves compared to the very same product that’s been built by someone else. It was identified that when consumers made their own products they felt proud and competent.
Harvard actually tagged this trait the Hawthorne effect in the 1930s. Researchers were looking at how to increase productivity of workers in General Electric factories in Hawthorne. They were testing a theory that if the lights were brighter, workers would work harder.
However, under closer inspection they found that it was the involvement of workers in their workplace that made the greatest impact. Dubbed the ‘Hawthorne’ theory, the researchers’ hypothesis suggested that if people were asked their opinion or made to feel special, they would indeed work harder and be more positive.
Both of these theories have important implications for how marketers engage their customers and build successful brands. Our research at Social Soup shows influential consumers now expect to be involved in the marketing process and will respond best when you market ‘with’ them and not ‘at’ them.
Giving them something for free actually devalued and had negative connotations for the brand. In this new world marketers build a collaborative relationship with their most powerful customers – one built on involvement, transparency and trust.
Two key areas where a brand can achieve this are through new product launches and campaign launches – taking a large group of influential consumers on a journey with the brand and co-creating the product and marketing campaign with them.
We’re not talking focus group here, we’re talking about leveraging the latest technology and using hundreds even thousands of consumers to build it. It’s the IKEA effect for brands at scale, creating advocacy and long-term ambassadors. Social Soup campaigns that have used this methodology have seen product sales increases from 35 to 55%.
The future of marketing is through collaboration and involvement and brands must find new ways to engage their consumers. Lucky for them they don’t need to spend 15 hours with an Allen key or read a 28 pg. manual to get involved.
Sharyn Smith is CEO and founder of Social Soup
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