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THE F-COMMERCE HANDBOOK
10 SECRETS FOR UNLOCKING THE SALES POTENTIAL OF FACEBOOK
By PAUL MARSDEN, PAUL CHANEY
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2012Paul Marsden and Paul Chaney
All rights reserved.
PLAY THE IMPULSE GAME
The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.
THE PERFUME RING
Sophie just made an impulse purchase. A cocktail ring from Dominican fashion designer, Oscar de la Renta. It was a Facebook exclusive, an offer made only to fans of the brand. And it cost just $65, a fabulous price, considering that you won't get much change from $1,000 for the typical Oscar de la Renta creation.
The ring itself was special, containing a solid concentration of Esprit d'Oscar, the brand's recently launched signature fragrance, a delicate citrus-sandalwood perfume capturing "the essence of femininity—re-imagined." With runway credentials, the perfume ring had been featured on the fingers of fashion models showcasing de la Renta's latest collection.
So when Sophie, a dedicated follower of fashion, caught wind in her Facebook News Feed that Oscar de la Renta had opened a temporary pop-up shop on its Facebook page to sell the perfume ring, she clicked through and bought on impulse.
In the world of commerce, the impulse purchase market is huge. It's 40 percent huge. Around 40 percent of everything we buy is the result of an unpremeditated spur-of-the-moment emotional impulse. An impulse purchase happens when we buy spontaneously and opportunistically based on emotional appeal. We may like to think that we are level headed, rational beings, executing well-thought through, pre-planned behavior. But retailers know better. They know we are impulsive and emotional, making unintended, unreflective, and unplanned purchases.
Impulse purchasing is good news for selling on Facebook because, right now, very few people are using Facebook as an app for shopping. Like Sophie, most people use it as an app for connecting and communicating with the people in their lives, not for shopping. While shopping and connecting are not mutually exclusive—indeed shopping can often be the excuse for socializing—Facebook has yet to be associated with this kind of activity. Perhaps one day this may change, as Facebook evolves from app to app platform, supporting a range of apps on its social operating system. But currently, because people aren't using Facebook to shop, in order to sell there, you have to face the prospect of selling to people not looking to buy. And that means selling an impulse purchase.
Fortunately commerce has a lot to say on how to sell on impulse purchases. First, whom to sell to? While we all buy on impulse, research shows that some people tend to be more susceptible than others:
Those under 40
Those with disposable income
Those who enjoy shopping
Those looking for self-betterment
If a number of these characteristics describe your customers, then you have a good chance of success in selling on Facebook. These people tend to buy on impulse, and some of them do so compulsively, wherever they are and whatever they are doing. In extreme cases, they may even have a condition known as CBD (compulsive buying disorder), and become onomaniacs (literally, mad shoppers). But we're all susceptible to buying on impulse, and there's even a simple nine-question test known as the Impulse Buying Scale that we can use to find out just how susceptible we are to impulse purchasing.
The commerce mindset also tells what kind of products tend to be bought on impulse, that is, the kind of products you should be selling on Facebook. Impulse purchases tend to be products with one or more of the following characteristics:
They make us feel good
They offer us good value
They make us look good
Products that make us feel good are known as hedonic goods, experiential purchases that offer fun, fantasy, pleasure or excitement. Do you sell any such products? If so, then selling them from your Facebook page could work for you.
From the impulse buy of a chocolate bar at the supermarket checkout to the purchase of a credit to play a Facebook game, hedonic purchases are usually non- necessary and discretionary from a purely functional perspective, but they tend to have emotional utility and offer sensorial rewards. In other words, they make us feel better. Think flowers, music, fragrances, feel-good movies, games, and comfort food. Or a perfume ring.
A second class of product also tends to be purchased on impulse, goods presenting themselves as exceptionally good values. Even when we are not shopping, we are heavily influenced by a consumer culture that works on the principle of value maximization. This means that we are constantly trying to get more for less in pretty much everything we do: work, life, love and, yes, shopping. When more is offered for less, even when we're not shopping, we buy on impulse. And so Sophie felt an irresistible urge to buy the $65 designer ring from a creator associated with $1,000-plus price tags.
More generally, what this means is that selling on Facebook is most likely to work when you offer promotional incentives, such as bonus products or price discounts to trigger the impulse purchase. But the smart trick is to think outside the price-volume box with value maximization. It's not just about offering more product for less money, but about offering more benefit for less cost. And benefits and costs come in a number of distinct flavors: economic, functional, psychological, and social. This gives you more levers to play with than simply price-volume tweaks. What kind of big benefit could you offer exclusively on Facebook?
In addition to products that make us feel good and that offer exceptional value, impulse buys include purchases that make us look good to others. A perfume ring from a fashion designer is worn not just for personal enjoyment; it is worn to make us look good to others.
From a social mindset, this kind of impulse purchase has symbolic value and social utility, insofar as it helps us communicate to others who we are and what we stand for. It helps us stand out from the crowd as individuals or fit in as members of groups with which we identify. You wear Oscar de la Renta? Then that says something about you. It's a status symbol that has social utility in the form of badge value, signaling to others our position, membership, and rank in a social hierarchy.
Many fashion, luxury, sports, and music purchases are made as much for their social utility in managing a public image as they are for personal enjoyment. Do you, or could you, sell any such image-management products? These are the products that are bought on impulse, and perhaps the most suitable for selling on Facebook.
From a social mindset, there's one further impulse-purchasing opportunity to consider for f-commerce. Often the social value of our purchases, the ability to make us look good to others, is not limited to what we buy, but how we buy. A product that has little intrinsic symbolic value, say diapers, can have real social currency when others don't have access. As we'll see in the chapter on scarcity, when the diaper brand Pampers began selling from its Facebook page, it sold at the impressive rate of over a thousand packs per hour. The secret? The new range was not yet available elsewhere; Pampers was offering a Facebook exclusive.
In doing this, Pampers wasn't really selling diapers—the brand was selling social utility in the form of get-it-first bragging rights. In other words, a Facebook first sales strategy can turn a commodity product into a prestige buy
Excerpted from THE F-COMMERCE HANDBOOK by PAUL MARSDEN, PAUL CHANEY. Copyright © 2012 by Paul Marsden and Paul Chaney. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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