Customer inertia is a force that’s hard to overcome. It’s ingrained in human psychology, and overcoming it can be difficult even for the biggest brands. This force keeps people anchored to their old habits even when they no longer make logical sense. Oftentimes, consumers value convenience and familiarity over innovative novelty.

Take the example of Amazon, the most valuable brand in the world. Amazon owns consumer’s mind share so much that customers buy Prime membership to improve their buying experience. An average Prime shopper is said to be twice more valuable than a regular shopper. Why shop anywhere else? Even if the desired product isn’t available, Amazon likely recommends a “good-enough” alternative. When everything is equal, Amazon is often the preferred online shopping site for most people.

What You Need To Know About Customer Inertia

One of the most important things to understand about customer inertia is that you can’t target it head-on. There are a few reasons why customers prefer inertia over innovation:

  • They’re tired of switching and preferred stability.
  • They already trust their brand, and it’s OK for them to splurge a little.
  • They’re attached to a status quo and cannot live without brand X.
  • Switching requires a lot of effort rather than a friction-less experience.
  • It’s not easy for them to understand whether a new alternative is better or not

The incumbent has an overwhelming advantage over new alternatives. Customer inertia is an emotional force and can only be overcome by a stronger emotional force.

Overcoming Customer Inertia

It might sound impossible to overcome customer inertia. People are naturally risk-averse and hesitant to try out a new product or solution when the stake is high. Logical reasoning is generally not effective due to the intrinsic risk of something new. The trick to overcoming customer inertia is to appeal to consumer’s subconscious emotion.

Specifically, you need to appeal to the following four areas:

1. Shed light upon the inadequacy of the existing solution

Consumers don’t see the problems within their existing solution because they are accustomed to it. Educate your customers on the inadequacy of their existing solution. Make them feel that they are in an inferior state as compared to their peers or competitors.

2. Show them a better way

Offer your customers a better alternative than the current one. Appeal to their FOMO and make them feel that your solution is what they have been looking for.

3. Reduce the risk of changing behavior

People are risk-averse and dislike changes – they look for ways to justify the status quo. To overcome such inertia, it’s important to lower risks as much as possible to encourage a switch. The risks could be multi-facets – financial, social, political, etc. Position your product properly to make them feel that there is no harm or risk trying.

4. Reduce their attachment to the old habits

People attached to their old habits for many reasons – it could be due to their identity, self-worth, comfort zone, etc. Identify the key drivers holding your prospects back and disarm them as appropriate.

What’s Next?

Overcoming customer inertia is a challenging task. To start, segment your customers and reverse engineer their pain points and concerns. The key to success is to continuously iterate your market positioning, messaging, and product offering until you find something that appeals to your targeted customers.