Understanding the Psychology of Consumer & User Experience CX/UX

When was the last time you had to organize your thoughts around purchasing a kitchen appliance?
If you’re like me chances are it was an inconvenience only contemplated at the moment of a broken toaster and standing in a department store while being thunderstruck at the vast array of uniform boxes and advertisement.

Whether it’s that fancy toaster we signed up for when we got married, or that ole’ dependable coffee pot we’ve had for a thousand years most of us have some kind of trusty kitchen appliance currently growing old on our counter tops.

Something as simple as a kitchen toaster in the fast paced world of technology today hearkens back to an age when an invention that could change the world consisted of a box with heating coils inside…

A simple machine transfixed with one lever that caused a revolution in the breakfast industry forcing bakers to change their process, mundane condiment makers to create spreadable butter all of which retroactively spurred new types of instant foods like Eggo waffles and Pop-Tarts.

The classic marketing story goes that the 2 slot toaster was eventually replaced with 4 slots and that eventually through rapid consumer demand the slots expanded all the way up to 8.  The consumer market of unfriendly megalith toasters then contracted to more user friendly sizes of 2 and 4 slots and to this day line department store shelves as far as the eye can see.

8-slot toaster 4 slot toaster
The eventual
8-slot toaster…
The fancy 4-slot, that
won over consumers

There is no better example for expressing the psychology of consumerism than the story of simple kitchen appliances.

The theory and typical explanation is that when markets contain products that are similar with slight variation of services and functionality a market is said to have reached a plateau.  Think of cell phones or lawn mowers, or shoes.

Makes sense… If there is a ton of products that all do the same thing its harder to choose the right one.

The questions and answers consumers seek pertaining to which products are better change into something more mysterious inside the vacuum of a market plateau.

What causes someone to buy a product in a sea of similar products that do exactly the same thing?

One of the key answers to this question is Consumer Centric Branding Strategy

Customer centric is a way of doing business with your customers in a way that provides a positive customer experience before and after the sale in order to drive repeat business, customer loyalty and profits.
Steven MacDonald

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.

Seth Godin

If we internalize what Steven and Seth are talking about Consumer Centricity and Branding are fairly elusive-beasts to catch and contain because they cover many topics that deal with the tribalism of human behavior and perception.

“Why do you like that? Because they do…”

“Who told them to like it? I’m not sure…”

“Wow that’s expensive it must be better…”

“Look… That one is cheaper… It must not be made as well…”

“Look… That really expensive version is on sale today… But only today… Maybe I should buy It”

Okay… So Consumer Centricity sounds the same as User Centricity from a tribal and behavioral standpoint?

Like we’ve talked about in previous Blog Posts User Experience or UX has similarities of a well-crafted Consumer Experience or CX.

Some of the core aspects of Consumer Experiences are that they rely on:

  • Customer Service
  • Advertising
  • Brand Reputation
  • Sales and Process
  • Pricing Fairness
  • Products and Delivery

Whereas some of the core aspects of User Experience rely on:

  • Usability
  • Interaction Design
  • Visual Design Branding and Aesthetic Value
  • Information Architecture
  • Content
  • User Definitions and Research

Notice that Branding fits into the core aspects of both CX and UX.  You could imagine the converging fields looking something like this Venn Diagram as they share aspects of Brand in the middle.

image006.png

While the Venn Diagram above works well to visualization CX and UX both harnessing Brand it is more accurate to think of them like this.

image008.jpg

Hmm, so first we focus on a Consumer Experience and then User Experience?

To understand how to utilize a Consumer Centric process and in what order to effectively execute the many puzzle pieces its first required that we know who are users/consumers are…

Sound familiar?

In previous Blog Posts we’ve talked about Concurrency’s User Definition workshops and how a successful UI and UX strategy can be attained.  We’ve talked about how the process of a UD workshop unearths User Centric data that helps to execute Business Decisions in a User Interface or in the visualization of emotional language tied to a User Experience.

User Centric or Consumer Centric data and how it is expressed and then acted upon is crucial for any CX or UX strategy.

Here are some screen grabs of User Centric data being expressed through a dashboard by a company called CardioLog

image010.jpg

image012.jpg

image014.jpg

The type of data gathered with dashboards like this are used as part of a comprehensive strategy in Concurrency’s Productivity and Collaboration Roadmaps.

While Concurrency’s Collaboration Roadmap strategy is focused more on the aspects of User Experience, Content Migration, Information Architecture and Infrastructure than that of the Advertising and Social facets of Consumer Experiences as you can still see by examining these dashboards a wealth of cross pollinating data is contained therein.

OK, so we’ll go out and purchase an analytic tool… bolt it into our project… and we’re good to go?

The key take away here is in understanding where the Psychology of CX and UX overlap and how any business strategy that includes User Definition workshops helps to round out and explain the simple idea that we are all people/users/human beings first and foremost and that people/users/human beings make decisions not just on facts but on emotions as well and that this single truth is the underlying driver of User and Consumer Experiences.

image016.png

The psychology of a successful Consumer and User Experience and the direct correlation on successful Brands is something we all know; Its nothing new… It isn’t a coincidence that half the population of the world has an iPhone, or that Super Bowl commercial of the kid recording his family made us cry.  It’s that consumers and users respond to tribal and  emotional connections with human behaviors; it’s woven into our DNA.

There is a famous quote by Steve Jobs and whether you agree with Jobs on all of his miraculous deeds or not it is undeniable the impact he had on the world, innovation and his ability to create unforgettable Brands.

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.

– Steve Jobs

In my next Blog Post, I’m going to be shedding the mantle of UI and UX and UD and CX to talk about good ole’ fashioned Illustration and the production of Icons and Fonts.  We will be talking about the process and applications involved to create your own web fonts and how to use them in CSS and HTML.

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