Nobody wants to be second best.
Nobody wants to buy second best.
So it's tempting to try and position your product as the best in its market in all of your marketing efforts. But, according to a new study, that's actually more likely to scare away or disappoint consumers.
Jinging Ma and Neal J. Roese performed 7 experiments on participants to see how they responded to situations that put them into either a "maximizing mindset" or a "satisficing mindset."
When the participants were asked to find the best product, they spent more of their energy looking for alternatives. As if that wasn't bad enough, they were also less satisfied with their choice.
Read on to find out why, and what you can do instead.
Maximization: There is NO Upside
Ma and Roese designed the experiments in order to put the participants into either a "maximization" or "comparison" mindset, or a control group, and then asked them to find the best deal. Both the maximization and comparison mindsets helped consumers find the best deal. In fact, both of those mindsets did equally better than the control group at finding the best deal.
Unless your product really is the best deal, from a purely utilitarian standpoint, neither of those situations is actually good for you, the seller.
But the truly revealing outcome is the fact that the maximizers were also the least satisfied with their choice. They suffered from buyer's remorse, and they were more likely to return the product.
This wasn't the case for those who were put into a comparative state of mind. While they were just as good at finding the best deal, they weren't hurt if their choice wasn't absolutely the best one out there.
Perhaps even more important, the maximization mindset was actually carried from one context to another. Once the participant was put into that mindset, it followed them into the next stage of the experiment.
So if you tell consumers your product is the best, they're going to remember it, at least subconsciously. And unless you really are the absolute best, they're also going to be less satisfied with your product than they otherwise would have been.
In the end, there's just no upside. Even if your product is the best, you're still going to put them in a mindset where they start searching more vigorously for better alternatives. And that reduces the chances that they'll ultimately end up choosing your product.
What to Do Instead
I hope by now it's obvious that you don't want to promise to consumers that your product is the best option out there. In fact, it's actually a bad idea to get them in a mindset where they're making comparisons of any kind, since that ultimately just persuades them to start searching for better alternatives just the same.
Instead, Roese told Business News Daily that you should focus on selling an experience to consumers, like Red Bull selling the experience of jumping to Earth from space. While we all know intellectually that a can of Red Bull has nothing to do with skydiving from space, we also can't help but be in awe of the fact that a beverage company helped a guy skydive from space.
It's this approach to marketing that moves consumers away from making comparisons. You don't compare Red Bull to other energy drinks, because it's in a category of its own.
In the end, you don't really want to be "best."
You want to be the only.
Image credit: Phil Roeder