Increasing the Consumption of Your Product or Service


Last night I went to the art fair at my kids’ elementary school. My son, Max, who’s in 2nd grade had created a picture of his ideal city (see below). 



I was thrilled to see that the Growthink office made the picture. :)  (It’s also funny to see that the city just had to have a video store in it).

Interestingly, there was something in the picture that I noticed, that I bet no other parent noticed. Can you see it? What I’m referring to is the fact that the Growthink office is the only one with double-doors. Clearly, my son has been schooled in Consumption Theory, which states that the more frequently your clients consume your products or services, the wealthier you become. So, by having double doors, Growthink can let in and serve more clients and create greater wealth (so I can buy my son more video games of course).

My favorite examples of consumption theory in action are Prell Shampoo’s use of the word “REPEAT” in it’s directions to get customers to wash their hair twice (and thus consume twice as much shampoo) each time they bathe. Adding the words “Use Daily” to the directions may have doubled Prell’s consumption again. My other favorite example is Colgate toothpaste, which dramatically increased consumption in an even easier way; it simply increased the size of the opening from which the toothpaste comes out.

How can you get clients to consume more of your products and services?

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Ed Lau says

The thought is good, Dave, and the question is right on target… the examples are bad. Double-doors are ok; if the clients are arriving in such great numbers that double doors are needed. We have to assume they do because they like and need the service. Greater opening on the toothpaste or directions encouraging more consumption do not seem to be ok. They appear to be sneaky attempts to get the user to consume more of something that they do not really need. Get your clients to cosume more by providing value and addressing their real needs... not by getting them to consume more of what they do not need.
Posted at 4:28 pm
Dorothy Ann Bollman says

In the late fifties I was the cook at a dude ranch. A guest who had purchased a mustard company told the story the previous owner had related: "It isn't the mustard that people ate that made me rich. It was the mustard they left on their plate." Consumers are naturally wasteful of inexpensive products, so maybe the lesson is to sell a product that is cheap to produce and inexpensive to buy! The production cost is low and the use is high.
Posted at 5:25 pm
Edwin Mason says

I think that Ed has hit the nail on the head, further you are using commoditised product offerings as examples. I consider that the constructive and productive method for increasing product consumption is providing cost effective, valued products/services that fulfil the customer requirement, build a trusted relationship and then you will find that you do not necessarily require the double doors and you might just find that your customers decide to buy more...
Posted at 7:54 pm
Martin Fouts says

As a Startup company who has been trying to maintain focus on our original product and distribution there of, having too many doors was kind of hard to conceive. After making a presentation at a local Angel Event, we had received many calls. We returned them with many thanks for your interest except for one. One organization approached us with the thought of placing our application on their FMC Platform with the recent advent of Googles Android Project and the announcement of Verizon, ATT and TMobile opening up to a Linux base for applications, we thought what better way to open doors to the Masses, get them used to using our application while in their hands, before they go to the retail market place. Since our products revenue model is Digital Media driven we figured why not? More doors are good, you just have to be sure to be able to monitor them all and be able to provide a constant service to the consumer. I don't think I got too off topic, was just trying to give another example of doors and getting to more people. Have a great day Martin.
Posted at 8:19 pm
Jean-Baptiste Vervaeck says

I find this line of thinking appalling. I can´t believe that this is the best way of doing business. It´s scary that we unwitting consumers ever trusted any large corporations. This type of behavior should not be permitted, but unfortunately when people read ads and labels, these words that persuade us subconsciously, are quickly overlooked and not properly understood. I find it offensive that by manipulating language you´re able to inspire unnecessary consumption of products on the basis of such a scheme. What I see in you´r son´s drawing is a consumer in his earliest stages, and just as you´ll be able to provide for him based on these tactics, undoubtedly he´ll be providing someone else in the future a similar benefit. Prepare him, teach him early on how to manipulate the system otherwise he could be the victim of someone else´s machiavelian machinations in the future. understandably, i was a little shocked by reading this article. I don´t wish to offend you using what i consider to be provocative language, but hopefully it made some positive impact. please consider in the future the impact of your words on others :)
Posted at 8:23 pm
Apollo says

Talking about toothpaste reminds me of the ad. where they picture a huge S shaped load of toothpaste on the brush. In actual fact less than a 1/4 of that amount is sufficient.
Posted at 8:40 pm
Jon Yaroch says

Well Ed, there is an old saying that goes a little something like be as shrewed as a snake and innocent as a dove. It seems that your overall perception of customers is that they are stupid and don't know what they need and how much of what they need. You need toothpaste and shampoo. Try treating your customers with integrity, educate them and simply ask them what they need and not assume what their real needs are. And prayerfully they will have clean hair and teeth when they meet with you to buy your product and or service.
Posted at 9:27 pm
John says

I too was a little shocked by this article. The core values of integrity and honour seem to take 2nd place in our society now as we race toward a resource scarce future. As an accountant and entrepeneur with 20 years experience, I've seen first hand the results of greed and mindless pursuit of profits.

I see how proud you are of your son and the pleasure you take in his achievements. This mirrors my own pleasure in the achievements my youngsters are making. However, our world is caught in a cycle of consumption and greed that is not sustainable. The name of this site is "Grow Think". Very apt. By expanding our minds and focussing on the challenges that our youngsters will face in the future we will bequeath to them a better and safer world.

Gimmicks, like increasing the size of the nozzle on toothpaste and using subliminal copywriting techniques to pursuade customers to use more of a product than is required is criminal. The wasted resources and effects on the environment and health of children are being ignored in the pursuit of a short term profit.

Our local supermarket stocks a range of cute and cuddly toys that children just adore. They can't get enough of these little creatures and the manufacturers have, year on year, brought a new range to satisfy this market. Nothing wrong with that in my mind, more power to them and their innovative little products that give hours of joy and pleasure to our children and their friends.

However, there's a twist to this story. The manufacturer, not satisfied with their margins decided after the last batch of toys (Understand now that these are collectables that come in family groups etc.) to package the toys in opaque material, thereby obscuring the view of what you are getting. It now becomes a "lucky packet" scenario, whereby the children can't see what they are buying and the contents are invariably a duplicate of what they already have. The disappointment on the faces of my childrens' friends when recounting these tales angered my wife and I. The toys are expensive and the children save their pocket money to buy them.

We paid a visit to this store and made it clear in no uncertain terms that they where morally wrong to take advantage of children in this way and that something needs to be done to make amends for the way they have been manipulated. The store was less than enthusiastic about taking the supplier to task. We then informed them that in future we would be making a small opening in each packet so that our children could see what they where buying. We where left with the distinct impression that the store just couldn't give a damn.

What are we as a society coming to when we find it neccessary to lie to and manipulate our children in order to make a profit?

I whole-heartedly endorse the free enterprise system as a workable and sustainable market mechanism, but I think that it is each of our duty, to balance our pursuit of profit with a desire to leave our children with a future worth living in.
Posted at 1:04 am
Jim says

But, what does it say of the city bank with no doors?
Posted at 10:30 am
Reg Maple says

John, You make some very interesting points. While I concur, that the use of copywriting techniques and subliminal messages isn't the most "up and up" way to convey a message to one's customers, I think your heavy-handed infusion of morality into the discussion shows some marketing naiveté. Yes, many of us want to create products or services that benefit the greater good. At the same time, we want to see adequate returns for those products and services. At the end of the day, a product that doesn't serve *some* use to *someone* isn't long for this world. For arguments sake, let's say that this greater "usefulness" un-"demonizes" the product. What I mean here is, shampoo and toothpaste are not inherently evil. So now in the scenario where we, the hypothetical entrepreneur, have created a useful product, we're still charged with the need to successfully market it, in such a fashion that its distribution/consumption hits levels where production remains sustainable. To do so, means that we are handed the Herculean task of competing in a world of flashing neon lights and very little attainable mind share. This is where the product is handed over to the marketing dept. At the end of the day, the marketer is obligated to take a Malcolm X approach: Successfully market this product..."by any means necessary." With this as their mission statement, you can see why 2 1/2 TV commercial breaks increasingly resemble the circus. Still, whatever they can do to increase awareness and consumption of a product, to sustainable levels, is within their boundaries -- if not just their job description. What it comes down to is, everyone is right here- it is the wise marketer who conveys these messages quietly and effectively. It is the wise parent who teaches their children to know better. I strongly suggest you examine books like Frank Lutz's "Words That Work" that go into the nitty-gritty details on just how persuasive a message can be, before you lambaste the aforementioned products. Frankly, as a musician, I have many friends who would benefit from washing their hair twice or brushing their teeth with a little more paste :)
Posted at 10:31 am
Dave Lavinsky says

I’m glad that I inspired a great exchange of ideas and insights. I have to agree that the examples I provided are too “sneaky.” I much prefer Tim’s baking soda example of the manufacturer showing that the product not only can be used for baking, but it can also be used for keeping the fridge fresh, or brushing your teeth.

Yes, the goal has to be to create long-term value. Do a great job providing a product or service to a client that has real benefit to them. Then they will come back and buy more of that product, or more of another product that you can offer them.

The goal is to increase their consumption of products that you offer AND that clients really need (with the "that clients really need" portion being omitted from my original blog post).

On this, let me give another example. In the United States only 57% of books that are purchased are read to completion, and on average, most readers do not get past page 18 in the book they purchased. Do you think that readers will buy a second book from an author when they only read the first book to page 18? Probably not. But, if the author had the reader's email address, and was able to email him interesting notes (e.g., "Hey, did you check out my ideas on page 63 about doing this and that which could help your business?"), that would increase the reader's consumption of the first book (in a positive way by getting him to learn more) and may increase his long-term consumption in terms of buying more books from that author again in the future.
Posted at 12:13 pm
Forrest Smith says

As a long-time reader of "growthink" I found the responses to have been viewed from an "ethical" standpoint. This is very encouraging with regards to the "moral values" held by those practicing professionals who deliver services to Customers. I do not remembering many purveyors of "products" respondng to this blog with the same fervor. The comments from the readers were provicative! Please continue to make us read with the heart and "growthink" critically! Forrest
Posted at 5:59 pm

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