94% Of Adverts Simply Confuse Consumers. Which 94%? Ask a Psychologist.

Are you indecisive? Or are you not so sure?

The science behind how you organise your ideas, get confused and make decisions is fascinating – and it has a direct impact on your buying decisions.

Imagine you want to buy a new book online. The obvious choice is to go to Amazon and make your purchase. But you want to buy from a different store. You want to go somewhere different.

How do you think that decision process goes?

Do you think you sequentially look at each option after a Google search, carefully weigh up which one offers the best option, and then carefully make an informed decision?

No. Surprisingly, you don’t.

For a standard, brand-based decision, you will take on average 20 seconds to evaluate the potential online vendors and decide where to buy your book.

And, chances are, you will look at the available options, feel bombarded with information, get incredibly confused and just pick up the same brand you always use. You buy the book from Amazon.

This is an incredibly common scenario for you, and your customers. Based on data from more than 5,000 interactive campaigns, we found that in 94% of such cases consumers become confused and switch back to their standard brand. This represents the biggest loss of potential new revenue.

What a wasted opportunity.

How does this confusion occur?

 When you make a decision, you need to evaluate several different ideas and transform them into one idea. This one idea is the decision about what you are going to do.

But your brain can only hold three ideas at once. In other words, your decision-making process is just a series of attempts to combine three ideas and transform them into one until you are left with one idea… your decision.

The decision-making process goes wrong when you try and put together three ideas that simply don’t fit. Not in that fantastically diverse brain of ours.

We don’t choose something that confuses us

When these three ideas don’t fit, you get confused. And, unless you are highly motivated, even low levels of confusion cause you to abandon whatever decision you are consciously considering. You either walk away or, you guessed it, choose your usual brand.

It’s far more common than you think – hence why 94% of us get confused and revert to our default brand.

You can’t control the way you select the ideas you want to put together. It’s not a conscious decision how you make a conscious decision. Think about it for too long and you’ve lost clarity. So, you end up buying the same thing again and again – even when it’s not the best choice.

Competitive Advantage for a Brand

There is good news. You can affect this process and, importantly, affect it to the advantage of your brand.

The simple principle is, if a consumer experiences clarity or reduced confusion when they look at your brand then they are highly likely to select it on that basis alone.

If your brand produces the lowest confusion levels compared to other brands, then you will be the leading acquirer of new customers and have the greatest consumer loyalty.

How can you reduce confusion levels?

The simplest way to reduce confusion levels is to understand themes.

A theme is a set of related ideas that tumble through our minds when we think about choosing an alternate product/brand. It could be ideas relating to the quality of ingredients used in a loaf of artisan bread, or the sentimental associations thinking about it being baked in a local deli.

How does a brand identify and simplify themes?

 Themes are bespoke to a brand, and are typically uncovered in a discovery project using Mass Consumer Psychology.

Mass Consumer Psychology

Often as part of a data-driven marketing strategy, this begins with a discovery project – an science-driven engagement with increasing numbers of customers with the aim of understanding how they perceive and choose your brand.

This doesn’t only work for acquiring new customers. It will help you build brand loyalty. Because, if your customer does look around at other brands, yours will stand apart as the least confusing option. Your customer flocks back to your brand, not out of frustration but out of a sense of love. That’s when repeat customers become loyal fans.

It might sound odd to have a campaign objective to produce the ‘least-confusing’ message, and it is usually highly positive in tone. But if you achieve only that outcome, reducing confusion levels will itself achieve a lasting, strong customer perception.

Once a consumer can make sense of your proposition, other human personality factors – such as confirmation bias – will reinforce personal choices, positive feelings of brand ‘love’, identification and loyalty.

It’s a win-win result for brand and consumer.