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Convenience over Quality? Why Your Brand Is the Answer.

December 16, 2017

Quality v Connenience

It was a year ago when my son and daughter were visiting for Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday for about five different reasons. I was in the family room with my son watching a football game (of course) on TV.

He had noticed the cover for my car antennae had been knocked off—sometime, somewhere. We talked about the antennae cover as well as the car model and year and where to go to get the replacement and when (off in the distant future) I might do it.

But before I knew it, he turned to me and said, “It will be here Saturday.”

What?

Like any Millennial raised in the digital world, he had been on his mobile checking in to Amazon with his Amazon Prime membership. He found the part and, quite simply, ordered it in the right color. Convenient! He also knew we could easily and quickly cancel the order (or return it) if something was wrong.

About six months later, I was having lunch with a previous casual dining client. We talked about how convenience seemed to be more and more important, perhaps as important as “quality”—or maybe more important in today’s digital world.

He reached for his mobile, propped it up so I could see what he was doing, and then easily demonstrated how he could dial up our order and add to it with his brand’s new app. Drink refills? Check. Another appetizer? Check. Dessert? Done. Time to pay the check? Taken care of.

He explained that he, the servers, and operations were very concerned about not only the guest’s perception of less personal engagement but also the impact on a server’s tips.
However, real world testing showed tips to be either equal to or better than previous standards because guests equated the convenience of saved time and effort to better service.

Wow. Or as one perspective would have it, we “only live for hundreds of months.” Is the slide to the “now economy” irreversible? Are we moving to a point where convenience is as important as quality or even more important? Are we trading quality for convenience?

Is it Uber for everything—”tap screen, get service, putting you at the centre of your world (Check out Paul Marsden’s Digital Intelligence Today blog post for many, many insights)?” And welcome to the hashtags #ConvienceTech and #EgoTech.

I sympathize with the audiophiles who have, for years, been very busy complaining about the loss of sound quality created due to the more convenient Bluetooth, cubed speakers, satellite radio, mobile phones, tablets, and MP3 players. And, I suppose, the big home TV screen or movie theater is losing out to the convenience of the very small screen streaming on many mobiles.

The Impact of Convenience Tech

While Paul Marsden may now be more preoccupied with Artificial Intelligence, I judge “Convenience Tech” to be an important theme running through his blog. He had previously pointed out five convenience attributes we marketers should consider as we develop new products, services, and positionings. They are Decision, Access, Transaction, Benefit, and Post-Benefit, and I believe each of his attributes to be self-evident (see his “Convenience Value Matrix” below).
Convenience Value Matrix

Why the Brand Matters

Hey, I’ve always been a quality focused marketing guy, but I can see how the digital revolution is, at the very least, changing the customer’s definition of quality. Convenience tech is making the overall quality of the experience better and more important.

If I can shop for a car online and be confident of getting a good (maybe not the best) price, isn’t less time spent haggling with a car dealer an improvement in the quality of the overall purchase? Isn’t the convenience of having a car part delivered in a day or two―with confidence in getting a decent price―a real value? Or what about the convenience of learning (experiencing?) a restaurant’s reputation and pricing online and in a matter of minutes instead of having to search through your friends or be limited to what you have already experienced?  Or what about the ease of having my less expensive razor blades delivered to my door, just when I need them?

The brand’s reputation for quality and value and its marketplace positioning is as or more important because of the increasing expectation of and demands for convenience. It is up to you make sure your brand is holistically fulfilling to your customers.

Convenience tech will add value for the customer when the brand and product or service deliver to expectations created by the brand’s promise and reputation. I can make a decision on an Amazon distributed product because I trust the Amazon brand and can check reviews of their secondary suppliers for quality. I can buy a car through an online search because I am confident a selected brand will deliver because I know its quality and value reputation.

From another perspective, convenience can build on quality and add value because we have a core confidence from knowing the brand and its value. Saving time and effort adds value and a holistic sense of quality to the brand―just don’t disappoint.

An original version of this email first appeared in the American Marketing Association’s Medium | Marketing Today” on November 30.

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