Lexus – Less Pain, More Gain

[photopress:lexus.jpg,full,alignleft]Last week we posted about Seth Godins Joy/Cash Curve and Buying Pain. We think that at least some marketers already understand the problem Godin raises and are trying to address it. One auto brand, Lexus, goes out of its way to, as Godin might put it, to add joy to the process of buying, not to mention owning, a car. From a neuromarketing point of view, we might view their efforts more as pain reduction.

Whatever you call it, Lexus dealers put into practice some of the things that Godin suggests. The create a very pleasing environment for the purchase – their showrooms are more like high-tech living rooms than typical dealer cube farms. They offer amenities like fresh coffee (no styrofoam cup of tarry liquid from the service department) and other beverages, an assortment of snacks, a pleasant receptionist, a stylish seating area, and so on. And in the closing process, nobody tries to sell you rustproofing.

In addition, the amenities continue after the sale – they are generous with loaner vehicles on those rare occasions when the vehicle needs service, and may even pick the vehicle up from your office. If you opt to wait while your car is serviced, you can kill time in the same stylish waiting area (furnished with a high quality television, the current Wall Street Journal and other newspapers, etc.), avail yourself of the aforementioned beverages and snacks, and (at least in our local dealership) surf the Web with free WiFi or get some work done in one of several small guest offices. What’s the effect of this? Not only does it address Godin’s point about making the buying process more pleasurable, but it also adds a perception of value. People don’t begrudge paying thousands of dollars more for a Lexus than an equivalent Toyota (where similar models exist).

Specifically, one might expect comparing the higher price, say, of a Lexus ES to that of a Toyota Camry might set the brain’s pain center off with a “price too high!” alert – in fact, for many buyers, that doesn’t seem to happen.

Obviously, there are lots of reasons why people pay more for a Lexus than a Toyota – legitimate differences in features and design, the higher prestige of the Lexus brand, and so on. We think their dealership strategy has served them well from a neuromarketing standpoint, though, by taking some of the pain out of buying a car. By rewriting the value proposition, Lexus also resets the pain threshold.

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Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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