Catalyst

Scaling new peaks of consumer delight

Harish Bhat | Updated on November 12, 2020 Published on November 12, 2020

Unpacking a home-delivered product is an experience in itself   -  iLexx

In the new normal, brands will need to re-create ‘peak moments’ that enhance shoppers’ affection

Recently, my daughter gave me a wonderful gift for my birthday — a six-month subscription to special blends of coffee from a relatively new brand. The first pack arrived by courier last week. The coffee, sourced from the Biligiri Hills of Karnataka, was delicious — medium-roasted with hints of citrus and a nice, lingering sweetness. But what delighted me as much as the coffee were two other things.

First, the packaging was minimal and completely recyclable. None of the wasteful plastic and huge volumes of packaging I associate with e-commerce purchases. Second, I found a nice, small handwritten note, which thanked me, and hoped I would enjoy the coffee. The origin story of the coffee was also beautifully described.

This got me thinking. Ever since the start of the pandemic, an increasing number of Indian consumers are opting for delivery at home of their groceries. Earlier, we would go out to a supermarket, browse and discover one or two exciting new products, taste new samples — and this shopping journey would provide us pleasurable moments. Now, in the new world of home delivery, how do retailers or brands create such moments of delight for us? The thoughtful handwritten note from the coffee brand is a superb example.

At a broader level, with changed consumer behaviour in the new normal, marketers need to recognise that the earlier “peak moments” of delight may no longer exist. Browsing at a bookstore may no longer be the moment of surprise and joy. Rather, the big moment may be the process of unpacking the much anticipated book that has just come home through Amazon or Flipkart.

New joys

How can brands create new peaks of delight? This is particularly important because it is these peaks that consumers remember fondly, and which enhance their affection for the brand. These peak experiences could include the point of arrival of the product, a surprising moment of discovery, or any touchpoint which involves intense consumer engagement or anxiety. In today’s mask-wearing environment, many of us would wish to complete our shopping very quickly, and leave without lingering around. Therefore, extremely speedy check-out, with the entire billing process being completed instantaneously or even virtually, could become a positive peak experience for consumers. The editor of this column, who lives in Delhi, points out to me that her local kirana stores and neighbourhood Mother Diary outlet have given her exactly this moment of delight. By providing her the flexibility of digital payments immediately after the purchase through a standee board with the mobile wallet details, the outlet ensures an almost contactless experience.

Another newly-crafted peak moment of delight, which I have observed in the past few months, revolves around video shopping, including “virtual” product demonstrations. Stores which retail a range of products — including sarees, jewellery and electronics — have engaged their consumers through video calls, which are easily doable on smartphones. From the safety of their homes, consumers now enjoy the same surprise of in-store discovery, as retailers put forward their wares in high-resolution splendour. If such video calls are well-scripted, they can sometimes even exceed the store experience. Of course, the retailers concerned need to follow-through with prompt delivery of the product.

Personal touch

Indeed, on-time delivery has become a critical new moment of delight for all of us. Today, retailers who can surprise us with prompt and even early delivery at our homes are likely to be significantly preferred. The manner of delivery also matters greatly. Earlier this year, when I purchased ergonomic Godrej chairs for my home/WFH-office, I was delighted that the owner of the store himself delivered the chairs, and explained to me how best these chairs were to be used to protect my lower and upper back fully. He mentioned to me that he has been doing this with all his customers in the locality.

Brands and retailers can also consider creating delight by sending free samples of new products to their regular customers, who are perhaps no longer visiting their supermarkets and are therefore unable to discover these newly launched products there. There are so many similar new peaks that are waiting to be scaled. But to do so, marketers will need to carefully study customer journeys in the new normal, and identify the places where they can make a real, meaningful impact.

Harish Bhat is Brand Custodian, Tata Sons. Views are personal

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Published on November 12, 2020
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