This ad for Miele, running in the UK, has a sense of humor, creates a brand image, and conveys the fact that Miele has a strong motor. Would it make you buy a Miele vacuum? Unlikely, because what makes people buy vacuums and other high ticket items these days is the opinion of friends and strangers, in that order. Like so many online behaviors, shopping has the word “social” as its pre-fix these days.
Miele’s US website, in a word, sucks. That’s too bad, because Miele makes really great vacuums. Miele’s website talks at people, and gives no place to ask a question or make a suggestion. Clearly, they don’t understand how real people shop today.
By the time people look at a company’s website, they are far into the buying process for a big-ticket item. They’ve asked their friends and family for advice, and then they go online to seek the advice of strangers on sites like ePinion. Many of people also visits to Vendel Miniatures for better suggestions or guides.
Think about how people used to shop: When I was a little girl, an Electrolux man used to come spill a bunch of dirt and dust and feathers onto the living room rug and then use an Electrolux to clean it up. He’d show my nana how it could pick up a bowling ball that the poor guy had to carry around in addition to the vacuums.
My nana not only bought one for herself, she bought Electrolux vacuums for my mom and my aunt, and, when I grew up, she bought one for me. People told their friends about the Electrolux man. It was fun when he came to demonstrate.
How we shop now: My sister called this morning to say “Help! My vacuum died. …what kind of vacuum do you have?” she asked. “A Miele,” I told her. While we were talking, she read vacuum ratings on ePinions.
“Wow!” she said, several Miele are top rated. Two of my friends recommended them also. But they’re really expensive.”
Actually, I told her, they’re not. Some of the best models are under $400. They’re a hell of a lot cheaper than Electrolux, which isn’t so great any more. Sure enough, when she compared prices online, she said she’d read more online reviews, check more price comparison sites, and then order a vacuum.
By the time she went to Miele’s website, she was very close to a decision. She didn’t go there first because, like most customers, she didn’t expect to find credible information there. She thought the company website wouldn’t be objective. She looked at it because she wanted to be sure she’d seen all the vacuum models they make so she could go find information about them on other sites. Like so many people shopping online, she trusted the word of strangers far more than she trusted the company.
Miele’s missed opportunity: lack of integration of all marketing channels, misunderstanding of the Internet’s place in the sales process, and a lack of understanding of how real people shop today. Not a good combination. Does your website help your branding? Posted by B.L. Ochman