The Amazon Dash announcement has been making the rounds of social media memes, so I am sure you have seen it. But I want to provoke perhaps a more skeptical consideration. By now, you are probably familiar with the basic workings and the business model. And as HF pros, you probably have some insights on the behavioral science behind it.
The Dash Button is a bite-sized plastic module that you can stick anywhere you might want to impulse-restock a particular product (presumably in your home). It connects to Wi-Fi. You push it. Goods are shipped to your door. The buttons will be free for Prime members to order, so that they can use them to order more stuff from Amazon.
In case you are not familiar, here is the basic design. You get a button that has a logo of a brand. You place the button somewhere close to where you store or use the brand at home. When you realize you need more, you just hit the button and it is automatically ordered through Amazon. You preset each button with the specific size, variety, quantity, or whatever other attribute that is relevant to your purchase.
There is a small but important error recovery check. When you place the order, you get a text message to your phone that has a
There are also some clear behavioral science links. By making the process seamless, consumers are much more likely to transact. Often without much focused attention that we usually use when shopping actively.
The design has established a really high bar for switching to another brand. The consumer doesn’t get to shop around for better prices, a different brand, new options, or anything else. The more you use it, the more you get “trained” not to think about these shopping needs that we usually rely on, because they become invisible. You are not consciously giving up these choices; you are simply not reminded of them. And the purchase is always made through Amazon.
Another process that becomes seamless and invisible is the billing. The consumer is automatically charged for the order. There is a solid body of evidence that the more separated a consumer is from the payment process, the less psychologically painful the payment is. So the fact that you didn’t get the best deal, or even a halfway decent deal that was just a click away, is lost on you.
The button is also visible 24/7 when anyone is in the room. Essentially, you have now placed a billboard for the brand in your house – visible to you, your family, and your guests. Free advertising for the brand, unlike the product package which is in the cabinet or maybe in the trash days ago.
What do you think? Am I being a Cassandra? Are we destined to become automatons in Amazon’s consumption machine?
Image Credit: Amazon Logo