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Simplicity in B2C marketing: A guide to easy consumer experiences

Simplicity in B2C marketing: A guide to easy consumer experiences

In the world of consumer decision-making, simple is best. 

Consumers are complex creatures, but their patron journey should be anything but. The need for simplicity is rooted in consumer psychology; this guide provides an in-depth look into how simplicity appears in B2C marketing.

Want the simple version of our guide? Click these shortcuts to get started:

1. What is simplicity in marketing?

2. Why consumers prefer simplicity

3. The benefits of simplicity for consumers

4. Simplicity tactics

What is simplicity in marketing?

For the purpose of this guide, we define simplicity as clear and effective marketing tactics that aid consumers in an easy-to-navigate experience. 

Why consumers prefer simplicity

Consumers may like to keep things simple, but they have a number of reasons for doing so. Colleen Kirk, D.P.S., associate professor of management and marketing studies at New York Institute of Technology, outlined two reasons why consumers are compelled to make simple decisions.

1. Ease of shopping

Kirk explained that simple or easy-to-understand campaign tactics allow consumers to use less time analyzing their choices, making their shopping experience more enjoyable. 

“...Choice research shows that too many choices can become overwhelming to consumers. Sometimes consumers are in a hurry, and simplicity helps them decide quickly. Some people simply hate shopping and want it to be as simple as possible," said Kirk.

2. Confidence builder

For consumers making a purchase or interacting with a brand, their time and money is an investment in their customer journey. And they take it quite seriously — the wrong decision could lead to them feeling regretful about an unsatisfactory purchase. On the other hand, Kirk said, taking part in a smart choice provides consumers with a sense of ownership over a product and experience that brought them joy. 

“It’s called a feeling of effectance, or competence, and feeling effectance makes it easier for consumers to feel ownership for a product as they shop,” said Kirk. “When consumers feel a product or brand is ‘theirs’ they will pay more for it, will evaluate it more positively and are more likely to tell others about it.”

(Read more about the science of simplicity.)

The benefits of simplicity for consumers

1. Creating effectance

Consumers appreciate small victories. Their goal-oriented mindset creates a desire for success, and in turn, a desire to feel smart. This is where the consumer psychology of effectance comes into play.

Dr. Amanda Ledet, professor of marketing at Louisiana State University, describes the feeling of effectance as the idea that people are motivated by a desire to be viewed as smart. Ledet says feelings of efficacy can show up in many different parts of the consumer journey.

It may show up in the awareness stage when a consumer recognizes they have a problem, or it can show up in the consideration stage if a brand appeals to a consumer’s ownership needs. It could also show up at the end of the journey if a consumer was made to feel part of the creation/buying process.

While consumers appreciate feelings of aptitude and success, Ledet says they enjoy them even more when paired with other psychological principles like scarcity and competition.

“As a consumer, when we feel we have scored a deal or snagged a limited-edition item, not only do we feel smart, but we experience a dopamine surge in our brains. Couple that with the principle of scarcity, and we’re all in. This 'smart decision rush' becomes addicting to many,” Ledet said.

(Read more about the consumer psychology of effectance.)

2. Avoiding choice overload

Simplicity can impact how consumers behave when faced with a decision, especially if simple marketing tactics are lacking.

When consumers find it difficult to find a product, complete a purchase or pursue any other step in the consumer journey, the abundance of choices they have to make can become overwhelming. In psychology, this is known as choice overload, and it can have some pretty negative effects on consumers and brands.

Jorge Barraza, Ph.D., professor of consumer behavior in the online Master of Science in Applied Psychology program at the University of Southern California, broke down choice overload and how it affects consumer interactions with brands.

“Choice overload is a paradox of sorts. As humans, we feel like we want more choices, but when it comes down to it what you find is that with the more choices there are, there is less willingness to act,” Barraza said. “Humans desire simplicity, they desire less clutter so anytime where there is a greater degree of uncertainty, that’s going to bleed over into the decision process.”

Creating simplicity in your marketing tactics can help prevent feelings of indecision and choice overload in consumers. 

(Read more about the consumer psychology behind choice overload.)

Simplicity tactics

1. Compare and contrast

An unfortunate consequence of having so many consumer-facing brands out there is that simple consumer decisions can be hard to come by. With so many brands promising to deliver fantastic results, it can be difficult for consumers to know what will work best for them.

Consumers have a ton of questions when it comes to deciding on a brand. You can answer those questions by comparing and contrasting your brand with others in your industry. How is your brand a better fit for your consumer than others? Knowing how your brand stands out makes it easier for consumers to see how you’ll meet their needs.

2. Highlight key elements of your product

Customers aren’t looking to spend countless hours deciding what product they should buy. Instead, they’ll look for shortcuts. To help, you can offer a shortcut with genuine value: Highlight the key elements of your product or service.

Clearly outline what your product does, the components that make it unique and how it will benefit consumers. Answering these essential questions for consumers takes the hassle out of an otherwise stressful decision.

3. Leverage social proof

Social proof is the idea that people are more likely to follow the lead of others — especially those they know or trust. This psychology can be beneficial for consumers who need some guidance on what choices they should make. 

Allowing consumers to see what purchases other consumers have made, highlighting your best-selling products, including influencer marketing in any promotions and showcasing expert endorsements can help simplify consumer decisions. 

4. Implement personalization

When consumers can clearly see other customers who look like them or products that fit their particular needs, it becomes easier to understand how that product or brand is the best choice. Consumers can be confident that they’ve made the best decision for themselves, their family or their friends by engaging with your brand. 

Personalization can also help consumers feel stronger feelings of familiarity. The more familiar a consumer is with a product, either due to previous interactions or feelings of nostalgia, the more at ease they become. Uncertainty is less of an issue when you’ve experienced a situation, or something like it, before. The consumer knows how the product will work for them. 

(Read more about the 4 tactics for making things simpler for consumers.)

Keeping things simple can profoundly affect how consumers behave around your brand. This guide is here to help you showcase your offerings in a clear, effective way.


Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.

Picture of Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener

Lindsay Keener is a brand journalist for Quikly. She covers stories that help to inform and educate consumer-facing marketers.