A consumer’s perceived value of a given product determines whether the customer will remain loyal to that product or not. Meeting customers’ expectations of a given product is not enough, and there is a need to delight the customers by exceeding their expectations (Hawkins, Best & Coney, 1995). This added value is what wins the customers’ loyalty because the customers feel that they get the value for their money.
Firms have shifted their attention from offering products at the lowest cost and price as a way of maximizing profits. In recent times, price does not matter to customers. It is the value that they attach to products that matter to them. Firms are now offering more than the customers’ bargain to increase sales volumes and gain profits due to this aspect. When customers decide to buy a given product, they probably have seen, heard, or experienced a positive trait about the product. A good experience with a product makes the customers feel that they are getting value for their money. In this case, such customers are likely to introduce others or remain loyal to the company. It is upon the company to confirm this to customers and retain them even in the future (Wright, 2006).
Based on the response given by six customers who had purchased and used Blackberry phones, this paper will discuss customers’ perceived value of products. It will describe the effects of poor or good customer experience on profitability and business growth. It will outline long and short-term effects that firms are likely to experience if they go wrong in their products. It will also discuss the possible solutions towards maintaining good customer relationships and ensuring that customers are loyal to a firm’s product.
Factors Contributing to the Preferred Choice of Blackberry
When customers were asked why they preferred to buy the Blackberry phones over other phones, they gave various reasons. One customer had heard about the wide range of features that the phone offered. This customer wanted a phone that he could browse and access online transactions such as electronic banking. The customer felt that the phone offered a good package that enabled him to do his office work even while outside. The phone would simplify his daily activities. Another customer was interested in the phone because it was a superior phone. This phone belonged to a higher social class, which he wanted to belong to.
Unlike other phones that every other person could afford, this phone raised his social status. The second customer liked this phone because it was big and had a big memory. She would store a lot of information, especially music, in this phone and access it any time she felt like. Another reason was the physical look, and to her, it was beautiful. The rest of the customers were interested in this phone because it had many features. They were not sure whether they would need all the features in the phone.
However, to them, the thought of owning this phone was exciting. To all the customers, their main interest was a phone that could call and help them communicate well. This was also available in other phones, but Blackberry had extra features. According to them, they may not need all the features and would buy the phone. Based on the customer’s response, the perceived value of a product depends on whether it will meet the customer’s needs and minor factors such as authenticity. These added advantages influence purchase more than the core features expected in a phone. Other customers preferred the brand and simply wanted to be associated with it.
Consumer behavior is similar, and the majority of the customers are influenced by the perception of others. From all the customers, the response was based on the available extras. To them, it was the extra value that mattered. Value chain management is the new marketing strategy. For Blackberry, this is working for them through the increased features that their phones have. There are those customers who just wanted to own the phone for no apparent reason. This case means that the brand was well established and known to the customers (Best, Hawkins & Mothersbaugh, 2007).
The Pre-Purchase Experience
Before purchase, the customers had an opportunity to compare the features available in this phone with other competitor’s phones. For those with the assumption that this phone would be better, they wanted to find out the extra features in Blackberry and absent among the competitors.
Their main concern was the advantage they would have if they bought that phone. For one customer, she was sure that the phone was unique, and the probability of getting a cheap imitation was non-existent. She was sure she would get the original phone and felt there was no risk in purchasing this phone. Another customer was expected of the new phone and was unsure if he could learn and access all the features without difficulties. The busy office customer was concerned about the effectiveness of the features and whether they would meet the expectations. The possibility of using these phones’ applications without switching was unbelievable; he looked forward to this experience.
In this case, customers were convinced that they were going to get a good deal and value for their money. For Blackberry, this is a good sign that product knowledge is easily available to customers. Their brand name is well established, and this is an important aspect of marketing. Established brands attract a significant number of customers as compared to new or unknown brands (Wright, 2006).
The purchase of this product was an easy task for the customers. For some customers, it was a matter of walking into various phone shops and comparing the prices. It was a guarantee that this phone would be available in any of the shops. The rest of the customers knew where to get the phone. They had seen its display and could identify it without the slightest doubt. To them, the phone was available even in small towns. The brand was well circulated in the market. This is also a positive strategy in which the firm has taken the product up to the consumers’ doorstep. In this regard, the risk of losing out on sales because of difficult access is factored out (Best, Hawkins & Mothersbaugh, 2007).
The buying experience was beyond expectation. Therefore, the customer who was worried about learning the phone’s features was served by a knowledgeable attendant. The aim was to assist him in going through the manual to learn some of the features. He was further offered after-sale services to call the shop and clarify what was not understood. The busy customer who wanted to use this phone to work while outside the office was glad to learn that this was possible. On demonstration, he found out that the features were there and operational. They all got warranties, which excited them because they could always replace their phones in case of any technical problems.
Usage and Service Experience
For the customer who required memory for her music, she was glad for the choice. This is because the customer could store as much music as she wanted. However, one thing she overlooked was the sound system. To her, that was not what she expected. The busy office customer was happy to get and use these applications for his communication and banking. However, the connection was not always perfect as the customer had expected.
He was not bothered because, after all, he could still transact and communicate despite the setbacks. The customer who associated this phone with the class was happy to obtain this phone and be associated with it. However, it was short-lived because he realized that a similar phone was introduced. This other phone came at a lower price, which to him was like abuse. This is because, sooner than he had expected, the phone would lose the social class that he had initially attributed to it. For all the customers, the phone served longer than they had expected. Despite the few challenges, the phone gave them value for their money.
However, when asked whether they would go for the same phone in the future, the response was uncertain. For the busy office customer, he had an alternative of a faster browsing phone. To him, browsing was what mattered, and thus he would obtain a different, superior model. The social class customer was not going to get this phone because they were likely to introduce another phone that would be “too similar.” For the customer who required memory for her music and the beauty of the phone, she could give it a chance if the phone came with a good sound.
Segmenting the market, especially in terms of economic and social status, is an effective strategy. It helps in building customer loyalty because each group will have products specifically designed for them. Matching customer’s needs with products are applicable, especially in this case, because it determines future interest in these products (Arnould & Wallendorf, 1994). The added value of products keeps changing, and this calls for companies to move with consumer demand. Education on products should be continuous so that customers will be aware of the upgraded version of the products they have (Wright, 2006).
Consumer behavior is a dynamic concept in marketing that is influenced by changing times. In the case of blackberries, the customers had a perceived value for the product. The short-term satisfaction from this brand was easily obtained. Nonetheless, the market uncertainty is a long-term impact. This is due to the experience they had. Value is the main concern for customers, and it determines their interest in the future. Continuous knowledge availed to customers helps in establishing long term relationships with customers. In this example, Blackberry attained short term sales, and it is advisable that it matches the new products with the current needs without altering the product value. It should target the same market for upgraded products that lie within the customers’ socio-economic status.
Arnould, E. J. & Wallendorf, M. (1994). Market-Oriented Ethnography: Interpration Building and Marketing Strategy Formulation. Journal of marketing research. 31, 484-504.
Best, R. J., Hawkins, D. I. & Mothersbaugh, D. L. (2007). Consumer behaviour: Building marketing strategy. Boston, Mass. [u.a.: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Hawkins, D. I., Best, R. J. & Coney, K. A. (1995). Consumer behaviour: Implications for marketing strategy. Chicago: Irwin.
Wright, R. (2006). Consumer behaviour. London: Thompson Learning.