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Simple Sells

When is the last time you heard someone say, “this is way to easy we need to make it more complicated.” Okay, outside of a conversation with an attorney, when is that last time you heard that? (My apologies to the legal profession, but I could not help it.)

That said, it irritates me to no end when I buy something and it’s difficult to assemble. Or when the second paragraph of directions on my son’s fourth-grade math page doesn’t make sense. So what’s wrong here? Simply put, some people just make things way too complicated!

We’re all familiar with the acronym KISS, or “keep it simple stupid.” Why can’t we apply that to the mattress industry? Pillow top, ultra cushion pillow top, euro top, foam density, ILDs, soft, firm, ultra plush, ultra firm, memory foam, visco foam, gel foam, gel bits, gel swirl, diamond particles … and the list goes on.

branson on simplicity

For consumers just turning their attentions to the mattress industry, there’s a lot to take in. The terms we use can confuse people, but how about the actual shopping experience? The consumer can’t really cross-shop beds very well and on top of that, we make them look so dang similar on the selling floor, it’s almost impossible to to compare and contrast their favorite beds.

Why should we try to simplify what we do? How about big profits?! I hate to do this, but I am going to make yet another comparison to Apple, as if everybody else out there doesn’t do this on a daily basis.) I just bought a new MacBook Air from Apple—and it didn’t even come with directions. Did your iPhone come with directions? These are some of the most complicated devices you can buy and they have made them so easy to use that you just have to turn them on to get started. Hmm. If we simplified the mattress industry, would it help create more interest from consumers or possibly make the buying experience better? Ask the guys at Casper or Tuft and Needle, and see what they tell you.

I know there are several reasons those guys are doing well, but you can’t discount the impact that simplifying the business has on driving results. Think about it: There is no magic in the products they are selling. I know many people in this business that could build the same products with no problem, but the approach to the consumer is what makes the big difference, and telling their story in a simple and compelling way is paying big dividends.

I’ve been around long enough to understand the need to have different ticks and names, so consumers have a more difficult time cross-shopping products. But at what point do the consumer frustration and cries for help trump our desire to maintain that healthy margin the way that we are used to doing it? When a company like Tuft and Needle comes along and makes things easier, the consumer reacts favorably and shifts their business to the “new way” of buying a bed. I’m not saying we’re going to change who we are because of a few Internet startup companies. But they sure have created their share of buzz and have a lot of people questioning their own business models.

All I’m saying here is that simplicity sells. We all like it when the ready-to-assemble furniture actually takes only three minutes to build, and the directions are easy to understand. How about the ease of using Uber when you are traveling and looking for a ride to the hotel? Simple equals easy, and easy equals happy, so let’s make our consumers happy. What do you say?!

Is this industry simple enough for you? How would you make it easier to navigate?

Many thanks to Beau Fraser at The Gate advertising agency for inspiring this blog by starting a great discussion thread in Linkedin.

4 thoughts on “Simple Sells

  1. mark:

    While obfuscation is counter intuitive and anathema to basic marketing precepts like ease, simplicity and empowering consumers, it is amazing how often it is used.
    But the internet, social media, Facebook likes, and consumer reviews puts the power in consumers’ hands and will turn confused consumers into annoyed consumers as they learn how some in the industry has deliberately obfuscated for their benefit.

  2. One reason why marketers, or retail “complicate” is because it makes their product appear more unique or special. Another is because they have not thought of an interesting or motivating reason why consumers should choose their product.

    The problem with “complicating” especially for simple products that consumers have a lot of experience with (mattresses!) is that it causes resentment.

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