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Simplicity: A desired luxury

by Engracia Perez-Prada , 21.01.2014

In an era of communication overload – In which people are expected to process multiple experiences at once and ways to communicate have grown exponentially -- how are consumers and shoppers coping? What are the strategies that they will resort to in order to make their lives a bit more manageable?

According to GfK’s Roper Reports Worldwide consumer trends research, the desire for “Streamlining” – taking actions to create a less complicated life -- is widely felt.  On average, 9 out of 10 consumers age 15+ globally agree that a less complex, more stress free lifestyle is appealing.  Among the 25 countries included in the Roper Reports Worldwide consumer survey, the US ranks among the top five nations where this is most strongly perceived.

This pared down, “less is more” mindset is at the heart of the Streamlining macrotrend.  In a complex and rapidly changing world, consumers are actively seeking brands and services that make their lives more manageable.

GfK’s Future Buy study also clearly points to a proliferation of Omni-channel shopping, and the double-digit growth in the use of smart phones and tablets for shopping versus a year ago. This is also a reflection of the search for simplification. Shoppers have learned to look for reviews, product information, coupons, and even directions to the store where the product is sold; or, they simply shop online from a single device. In fact, many consumers heavily rely on a smartphone, their “faithful concierge” to help them simplify a variety of daily activities.

What are the implications of Streamlining for brands? Make it simple! Think of Amazon, a very simple brand proposition coupled with a very intuitive and convenient shopping process. Think about LG, which designed Smart TVs with a very intuitive user interface, and refrigerators that warn you when something is about to expire or when you are running out of milk. Of course, not every brand can be as simple as these; but all brands can strive to make their user experiences more efficient via smart selection and simple messaging. The result: Consumers can easily weigh their choices based on simple and efficient heuristics. This will increase the probability of the simpler brand being selected, allowing consumers to cut corners and save precious time.

Engracia Perez-Prada is Senior Vice President of GfK’s Consumer team. She can be reached at engracia.perez-prada@gfk.com.