A bit of research told me that Dualit toasters are British-made to high quality standards and are designed so that components can easily be replaced which means that the product doesn’t have to be replaced when one heating element goes. Great, I thought! However, when it arrived in the post, I couldn’t help wonder what on earth I had been thinking spending £70 on a toaster!
I lifted it, heavy and shiny, out of its strong box and noticed it had been carefully wrapped in branded tissue paper. I knew then I’d made the right choice.
In that moment, the quality packaging and attention to detail made an emotional connection with me that instantly converted me from a first-time customer to a raving fan. I can’t explain it – writing it down and considering it objectively makes me feel particularly silly – but that’s how I felt.
Bryony Thomas at Watertight Marketing calls this “The Hug”.
What is The Hug?
The connection itself is difficult to describe, because it happens at a deep, primitive and unconscious level in our brains (Google the “limbic brain” if you’re interested) that does not control speech and language. We might describe a purchase, or indeed any considered decision, as “feeling right” but we struggle to articulate why.
Why do we need a “hug” when we buy something?
- A hug prevents “buyer’s remorse”. Also called “post-purchase dissonance”, this is simply the feeling of regret that we’ve all experienced at one point or another when we’ve spent more than we probably should have on something that we come to realise perhaps wasn’t worth it. Like spending £70 on a toaster – except that I love my toaster for very irrational reasons!
- A hug can rapidly turn a brand new customer (Trial/Adoption) into a loyal fan and referrer (Loyalty). Everyone knows that it costs less to win a sale from an existing customer than a new one, which is why it's so important to make sure your customers stay loyal. And the first experience someone has of being your customer is an opportunity to make a lasting impression.
How to give your customers a “Hug"
- An unexpected gift, special offer or other additional value. Ideally, this would be part of a welcome pack (see Leak 2: Poor On-boarding in the book) and what it would be might depend on the value of the purchase. It could be as small as a flyer with a discount from a complementary non-competitive partner company or as large as a hamper. It just has to be relevant and, preferably, thoughtful. When my husband came home after having bought a sports car, he handed me a bunch of flowers that the salesman had given for me. A few years later when he later traded it in for a family-sized car with a big boot, he also came home with a large teddy for our new baby son.
- Quality packaging and materials– there’s a reason Apple spend so much money producing beautiful packaging. If you’ve ever bought an Apple product, take a moment now to think back to how you felt when you opened that white box. Did you feel the hug? My husband (who’s not a marketer) tells me that Apple would make more money if they didn’t spend so much on their heavy, white boxes. But it’d be the beginning of the end for their brand.
- A level of service that goes above and beyond what the customer would have been expecting. Again, what this would mean in practice will very much depend on your industry, your product and the value of the sale, but it could be as simple as a phone call a couple of days after purchase to check how they are getting on with the product. I’ve seen this work particularly well with software and IT products where it can be time-consuming to get up and running.
In what way could you give your customer a hug? Have you seen any other good examples of hugs? Let me know in the comments below.