Geo Week News

January 21, 2013

Value vs. Perceived Value


I purchased most of my holiday gifts, as I’m sure many of you did, via websites this past year. While I certainly enjoy the convenience, I must admit that I am often a bit underwhelmed when I open the box (or in many cases the large envelope!). Rationally, I know that it is the same item from the webpage or store, but the presentation is so lousy in comparison to seeing it on a mannequin or in a glossy photo that I feel a bit disappointed. And the greater the initial presentation (I’m looking at you Victoria’s Secret!), the larger the disappointment at the shipment whose only concern was arriving at my house at the lowest possible cost to the merchant. 

However, some companies do put a bit more into their deliverable packages. Take Banana Republic for instance. A sweater ordered from their website came folded, wrapped in tissue paper with a little “BR” sticker to hold the paper together. All of this came in a slightly oversized shirt box that was too big for my mailbox so that it had to be left at my front door. Compare that to the aforementioned Victoria’s Secret, which sent a Tyvek envelope into which they had thrown several small items, each stamped flat and individually sealed in tiny plastic bags a little larger than a dollar bill.

So, what’s the difference? Aside from the fact that I now know that I could keep the entire operating stock necessary to maintain two Victoria’s Secret stores in the trunk of my car, I’d say the difference is one of expectations. Both merchants provided exactly what I asked for, when I asked for it. However, in one case my expectations as a customer were met, in the other they were not. As someone that cannot participate in a business transaction without thinking about my own business I had to ask, “What do my deliverables look like compared to my presentations?”

Which do you prefer: A download link from YouSendIt or a 100-page-report prepared by these gals?

I’m old enough to remember a time when all deliverables were paper. Even when the primary objective was a digital file it would be put on a floppy disk that was inserted into a sleeve that would be attached to the cover of a paper report! As we have moved into the world of FTP and large, attachment-filled inboxes a lot of this has disappeared. It could be for the best. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t ever remember going back to look at those paper reports after projects were completed. But I do remember the sense of completion that I derived from producing them and I don’t feel the same about hitting “attach file.” 

I suspect that my customers do not feel as good about spending thousands of dollars on an email from YouSendIt that contains a download link as they would from a hand-delivered package of well-produced materials. 

The question then becomes, “How much is that feeling worth?” Nothing will be as inexpensive or convenient as a download link. Those reports take manpower and money to produce and ship; so do USB sticks and hard drives. At some point, the material costs may put you behind a competitor that is more concerned with price than presentation. The last thing any of us wants to do is work harder to make less money!

The example that my mind keeps returning to is jewelry. Nothing comes in a finer package than jewelry. They could just as easily put it in a little plastic baggy (and it would not change the actual value a bit), but it certainly changes the perceived value of the object at hand. That’s the feeling I want my customers to have: “Look at this thing I got from Sam, it is valuable.”  I’m curious to hear your opinions. How are you presenting your data to your clients? I intend to put a bit more focus on this in 2013. The true sign of success is repeat business and customer satisfaction can only help in that regard. Leaving them with a good feeling about the purchase they just made seems like a good start to me.

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