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THE SOCIAL COMMERCE HANDBOOK
20 SECRETS FOR TURNING SOCIAL MEDIA INTO SOCIAL SALES
By PAUL MARSDEN, PAUL CHANEY
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2013Paul 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 has just made an impulse purchase: a cocktail ring from 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, discovered 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 purchasing" is huge. Specifically, 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 whenever we buy spontaneously and opportunistically based on emotional appeal. We may like to think of ourselves as level-headed, rational shoppers. But retailers know better. They know we are impulsive and emotional, and that as a result, our purchases are often unintended, unreflective, and unplanned.
Impulse purchasing is especially good news for buying through social media because, right now, very few people are actually using social media specifically for shopping. Like Sophie, most people use social media to connect and communicate with the people in their lives, not for shopping. So while shopping and connecting are not mutually exclusive—indeed, shopping can often be the excuse for socializing—social media has yet to be strongly associated with shopping. This means that in order to sell with social media, you have to face the prospect of selling to people not looking to buy. And the easiest way to do that is to sell a product or service that is typically bought on impulse.
So how do you go about selling on impulse with social media? To help, we can look at what's known about impulse buying. First, who buys on impulse? While we all buy on impulse from time to time, research shows that some people tend to be far more susceptible than others:
Under 40 years old
With disposable income
Looking for self-betterment
If a number of these characteristics describe your customers, then social commerce may well work for you. These traits describe people who tend to buy on impulse, some of them compulsively. In extreme cases, they may even have a condition known as CBD (compulsive buying disorder) and may become "onomaniacs" (literally, insane shoppers). But to a greater or lesser degree, we're all susceptible to buying on impulse. There's even a simple and free test you can take to find out just how susceptible you are to impulse purchasing—it's called the "Impulse Buying Scale."
Insights from commerce also tell us what kind of products tend to be bought on impulse, that is, the kind of products you should be selling through social media. Impulse purchases tend to be products with one or more of the following characteristics:
Products that make us feel good
Products that offer us good value
Products that make us look good
Products that make us feel good are known as hedonic goods: experiential purchases that offer fun, fantasy, pleasure, or excitement. 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 unnecessary 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. Do you sell any such products? If so, selling with social media could work for you.
There's a second class of product that also tends to be purchased on impulse: goods presenting themselves as exceptionally good value. Even when people 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 that's why Sophie felt an irresistible urge to buy the $65 designer ring from a designer known for his $1,000+ price tags.
Generally speaking, what all this means is that selling with social media is most likely to work when you offer some kind of deal or promotion to trigger an impulse buy. But the smart trick is to think outside the price/volume box. 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. So think about how you could offer something extra that would be useful or helpful to your customers immediately, or would make them feel better about themselves or the people they care about.
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. 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. If you wear Oscar de la Renta, that says something about you. It's a status symbol that has social utility in the form of badge value, signaling to others 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 products that could be used for personal "image management"? Such products are particularly susceptible to being purchased on impulse and are, therefore, well suited to being sold though social media.
From a social mindset, there's one further impulse purchasing opportunity to consider. 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, for example, 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 impressive rate of over 1,000 packs an hour. The secret? The new line was not yet available elsewhere; Pampers was offering a Facebook exclusive.
In doing this, Pampers wasn't really selling diapers; rather, the brand was selling social utility in the form of get-it-first bragging rights. In other words, a social-first sales strategy can turn a commodity product into a prestige buy that triggers an impulse purcha
Excerpted from THE SOCIAL COMMERCE HANDBOOK by PAUL MARSDEN, PAUL CHANEY. Copyright © 2013 by Paul Marsden and Paul Chaney. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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