Recently I wrote about why it's essential for innovators to go by the motto "less is more" when they're promoting an idea. Turns out that "less is more" when deciding who to promote your idea to as well!
The Journal of Consumer Research just published a fascinating article titled Overindividuation in Gift Giving: Shopping for Multiple Recipients Leads Givers to Choose Unique but Less Preferred Gifts. It's about how just thinking about giving gifts to more than one person negatively affects the gift-giver's ability to understand what the recipients really want.
When you're promoting an idea, you need to think about how that new product or service is going to make the consumer's life better. That's called the "benefit" of a product - or the "gift" of your product to them.
The article Overindividuation in Gift Giving, however, reveals that it's a mistake to think about multiple people when you're figuring out the benefit of your new product.
The researchers found:
- All gift givers want to buy the gift that their receipients will enjoy the most.
Translation: You want to tell your consumer the "gift" of your product that will appeal the most to them.
- When gift-givers had only one person to buy a gift for, they reliably picked the gift that would appeal most to the recipient.
- But, when the gift giver was asked to choose gifts for two people, most gift-givers passed over the obvious "best" gift for at least one of their recipients and choose something else entirely!
So why does thinking about more than one person make people worse at picking out what will appeal most to their recipients?
What happens is that gift-givers feel guilty if they give two people the same gift. They feel it's cheating and doesn't show they considered each person as an individual. So when someone has to buy a gift for two or more people, they focus on the differences between the recipients.
That means if both recipients love Science Fiction movies most, but one person also likes Romantic Comedies and the other likes Horror - the gift-giver will buy a Romantic comedy and a Horror movie as presents. Neither will receive a Science Fiction movie - their first choice.
This is the danger in considering two different types of consumers when you're trying to pick the benefit (gift) of your product that will appeal the most to them. Instead of focusing on what each person really wants, you feel like you have to show each consumer that you understand how they are unique.
That's why it's so important to target only one consumer at a time - even if your product can appeal to multiple demographics. You need to focus on what's most important to that consumer, not what's most important to that consumer when they're compared to someone else!
Image credit: "Gift" by asenat29