Why do brands selling automobiles and alcoholic beverages always feature a sexy female model? (Granted that sports automobiles and alcohol advertisements usually target males.)
Dr. Cialdini explains that we are more likely to comply with requests made by people that we like. That can range from our closest friends to complete strangers that we are attracted to, just like that model posing with that Lamborghini.
That also explains why we are that much more likely to purchase something recommended by people close to us.
In “Influence”, Dr. Cialdini lists 5 factors that powers the principle of Liking:
- Physical attractiveness – Good looks suggest other favorable traits, i.e. honesty, humor, trustworthiness
- Similarity – We like people similar to us in terms of interests, opinions, personality, background, etc.
- Compliments – We love to receive praises, and tend to like those who give it.
- Contact and Cooperation – We feel a sense of commonality when working with others to fulfil a common goal.
- Conditioning and Association – We like looking at models, and thus become more favorable towards the cars behind them.
But do these factors apply to ecommerce?
Sure they do.
Here’s how the Liking principle can be applied to ecommerce, and 8 brands who have applied it exceptionally well:
A. Physical Attractiveness
When it comes to the physical attractiveness of an ecommerce website, you don’t want it to just look good.
It should also be well-designed, functional, so that users will enjoy spending their time clicking on all your buttons.
Hard Graft’s website looks stunning, displaying their products in a way that just draws you in. The navigation is minimalistic yet functional, making it a joy to browse.
Instead of just using high quality photos, the folks at Black Milk Clothing have gone with a fun intro video for visitors to enjoy before they enter the site. The video features several beautiful models in Black Milk clothes laughing and having fun as they prepare for Christmas.
As the world becomes more social, brands that behave like corporations feel cold and unrelatable.
In contrast, we might prefer to purchase from a brand that interacts with their customers, is empathetic and just…. more human.
That’s why branding is of such importance: brands are starting to realise that in order to earn customer loyalty in this new age, you can’t behave like a brand; you have to be their friend.
One aspect of making your customers think of you as a friend is relatability and similarity. If your customers feel that you can relate to them, and understand the problems they are facing, they can begin to think of you as a friend.
ThinkGeek sells merchandise from games, movies and comics; stuff that are usually bought by nerds or geeks.
Their copy and design is a lot more “geeky” than other sites, giving us the feeling that the guys behind the brand are geeks just like us.
In 2013, they held a competition where customers had to guess the weight of the jacket stuff with a list of techy items.
Another aspect of making a brand more human is to have a voice.
When we share or talk about a brand on social media, and they actually reply to us, it makes us feel like we’ve rubbed shoulders with something famous.
Social media platforms aren’t broadcasting sites; they’re platforms to establish more intimate conversations and relationships with your customers!
Dollar Shave Club has a very witty personality, but perhaps the coolest thing about them is the way they manage their social media voice.
They shine the spotlight on their fans regularly, making them feel happy and appreciated.
Here, they feature selected DSC members on their blog, starting with Mr. “Lemus Dos”.
On another occasion, they posted a nerdy photo of their staff, and challenged their fans to “out-awkward” them, with some prizes on the line.
They received over a hundred submissions, and they actually took the effort to reply to almost every entry, with witty compliments like: “ooh, that’s good” and “The look that melted a thousand icebergs”.
Proof Eyewear also uses social media to express gratitude to their customers by featuring their photos weekly.
D. Contact and Cooperation
Sometimes, we like someone not because of their personality, but because of what they stand for. We respect and like them when we know that they are working towards the same ideals as we are.
What some fans like about Apple is that they are concerned about the environment, and are constantly working towards making their products and processes more environmentally friendly.
In March 2014, Threadless announced that all artists would be granted all rights to their work. They also introduced a compensation model that gives 20% of profits to the designs’ creators.
Threadless is built on the efforts of artists all over the world, and by doing this they essentially gave all the artists a huge bear-hug and said, “We’ve got you covered!
Apart from artists’ rights, Threadless also supports a variety of social and health charities, allowing customers to pledge support towards a common good.
E. Conditioning and Association
When we look at James Bond standing with his Aston Martin, the car no longer becomes just a car. Elements of the international man of mystery rubs off onto it, turning it into a “sexy”, “masculine” and “cool” ride.
For a brand to be immortalised, it has to evolve from being a maker of products into a creator and enforcer of an ideal.
Just like how Apple represents the inner geek and rebel in all of us, your brand must be associated with an ideal/value that your customers can relate to and support.
The designs from Free People evoke a distinctly Bohemian vibe, and they represent “femininity, spirit, and creativity”.
This free-spirited style is reflected not just in their clothes, but everything from graphic elements to typefaces used on their website.
When you are passionate and focused on something, it comes through in your brand.
Delight your customers with unexpected quality, and you will earn their affection.
Most people perceive most brands to be inorganic, corporate and artificial.
However, that perception can be broken if you use the Liking Principle effectively. Surprise your customers with an uncommonly sincere personality, good looks, and you will have an edge over your competitors.