Training and development

Getting your buyers to buy more often

Engel Schmidl /

Getting your buyers to buy more often by helping them know that they need to is something every business should be doing. Relying on your customers to design their own repurchase cycle is leaving yourself open to forgetfulness, delay or, worse still, substitution.

Here are three things you should consider implementing:

1. Build in cues of product redundancy

If you have a perishable product, most of your work will be taken care of by nature and health standards. “Use By” and “Best Before” dates are examples of cues that are designed to protect the health of the consumer.

But what if your product’s life cycle is not so obvious?

Take your pillow for example. Every night you rest your head on a pillow you purchased maybe years ago, never thinking that it too has a useful shelf life. Not a great repurchase model for pillow manufacturers.

Enter Tontine and their ingenious date-stamped pillow that reminds the customer that the pillow should be changed every two years, and serves as a cue every time the pillow case is removed. Suddenly after the pillow’s “expiry” you are not sleeping so well, worried about what pillow gremlins have been unleashed in the depths of the night. For Tontine, whether people buy a new pillow immediately or just sooner than never, they have created a sense of product redundancy and improved their chances of repeat purchase.

So the question for you is whether your product has a life cycle, real or perceived, that you can highlight to your customers?

2. Activate repurchase by providing a cue

Smart manufacturers give their consumers advanced warning of the need to take action. Examples include:

  • Tissues that change grade and colour as you near the bottom. You know when your white tissue turns pink and scratchy that the good times are over.
  • Rolls of cling wrap that include a reminder sticker to buy more when you near the end of the reel.
  • Car dashboards that signal when your service is due.

And here is an interesting idea for food. A recent study into self-control saw chips coloured red with food dye inserted at intervals in the Pringles-like packet. Whilst the objective of the study was to interrupt overeating patterns, it shows that there are ways to include cues without interfering with the quality of the food.

The lesson here is that you can help your customer avoid running out of your product by providing them explicit cues.

3. Make the cue transportable

It’s great that you have created a need to repurchase through redundancy and triggered the need to repurchase, but there’s still a long way to go between home and the cash register. You need to help your buyer be reminded to buy your product in the context of purchase.

For example, ever had the experience of being out and enjoying a bottle of wine so much that you sometime later look for it in the bottle shop? If only you can remember what it was called! Clever winemakers have closed this gap by providing a transportable cue in the form of a perforated, takeaway tag on the wine label so that the customer can rip it off and keep it handy for their bottle shop hunt.

QR codes can likewise be used to close the gap between product use and repurchase – if only anyone used them. Code scanning technology aside, mobile phones are definitely the key link between home and the retailer because they are with your customer in most contexts and used as a source of information and reminder.

The question you should be asking yourself here is how are you physically helping to remind your buyer to buy your product?

Bri Williams runs People Patterns Pty Ltd, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues. Bri is a presenter, consultant and author who you can find out more about at www.peoplepatterns.com.au, viabri@peoplepatterns.com.au or by following on Twitter @peoplepatterns. Bri’s book, “22 Minutes to a Better Business”, about how behavioural economics can help you tackle everyday business issues, is available through the Blurb bookstore.

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