Walk through most shopping malls today and much of what you’ll encounter looks pretty similar. Average products for average people. Undifferentiated sale banners screaming at us from storefront windows. Copy cat promotional signs atop virtually identical racks. A sea of sameness.
Go online and not much is different. Navigation and shopping carts across most websites feel quite familiar. Take the logo off the site and you’d be hard-pressed to identify the brand. In our quest to improve conversion and cart abandonment rates we most often choose what we know works–the “best in breed.”
Our physical and virtual mailboxes are chock-a-block with one-size-fits-all marketing messages employing tried and true, but mostly tired, techniques. And much of it touts discount, not relevance.
When we’re afraid to take risks, when we seek efficient rather than remarkable, when we mostly mimic known best practices, our tendency is to regress toward the mean. And slowly but surely, we shave off the interesting and polish the customer experience until it feels safe, but is often utterly boring.
When scarcity of choice and access existed–and brands were in control–it wasn’t terribly difficult to get away with being average.
But as the power continues to shift to the consumer, as she has an endless aisle of choices and access to almost anything imaginable 24/7, average is no longer safe. In fact, it’s precisely the opposite.
Imitation may be flattering, but in the battle for the share of attention that ultimately drives long-term success, well, not so much.