Corollary to ‘Too Simple to Sell’

A few weeks ago I noted Don Norman’s article on consumers’ desire for more complex products. Yesterday’s New York Times pointed out the corollary to that rule – consumers like higher prices. Well, not really, but when you’re trying to sell a product with more features than an alternative, consumers tend to suspect its quality if it’s sold for the same price. The New York Times article, which cites a study done on all-in-one (i.e. more features) products, says:

all-in-one toothpaste‘If you combine different products, you must give people a reason why they should not discount the performance of each individual function,’ said Alexander Chernev, the paper’s author and an associate professor of marketing at Northwestern University. ‘The moment they think it’s more expensive, they find a way to account for this discrepancy’

At first blush, this may not seem like new news, but let’s stop and think for a minute. We’ve now learned that consumers prefer complex products to simple ones, and they like those complex products to cost more because the price serves as confirmation of the product’s value. This doesn’t tell us how to expand the market for high-priced, complex products, but it does tell us how to go about capturing as much of the intrinsic market as possible.

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