Messy Middle

I was at a Google event and whilst I found several of the day sessions of interest the one that stood out to me was ‘The Messy Middle’ (note: this is not the same as, though does relate to, the messy middle book by Scott Belsky)

…Google’s own research found that while brand remains important when shopping for a holiday for example it is not the defining influence.

Personal observation: The following ‘messy middle elasticity’ will differ greatly depending on areas such as degree of product differentiation, brand elasticity to target audience, etc

The Google research studied the ‘messy middle’; the elongated phase of buying between initial inspiration > purchase. This phase is sometimes overlooked as some brands focus on ‘branding’ (TV, Press, above the line) or chase sale signals much deeper into the sales/ acquisition funnel (where Google normally plays a key role with the likes of SEO, PPC, retargeting and programmatic)

The unconscious factors that were scientifically proven (sample size: 100,000) to determine why people make buying decisions are numerous and include:

Mere-Exposure effect – people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar

Social norms – views and recommendations of friends/ influencers

category heuristics and Authority Bias – help customers shortcut decision making by using industry body kitemarks or awards

Power of free – added value benefits such as free additional extras

Reciprocity – when someone gives us something, we feel compelled to give something back in return (think an email address for a % discount of the price)

Scarcity – people are motivated by the thought that they might miss out on an opportunity (flights are a perfect example of this)

(For further information check out Dr Cialdini and the Psychology of Persuasion).

For me the above really highlights getting your ‘offer’ (4 X P’s) ‘right’ + constantly seeking business & user need research + testing to different target segments/ inputs & utilising advanced marketing techniques such as AI and automation to aid engagement throughout the decision making process.

Further reading: The Google research on the “messy middle” phase of buying can be found in the article on Think with Google. The article provides insights into how consumers behave during the elongated phase of buying between initial inspiration and purchase.

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