The desire for control is something inherent in people’s lives. The idea of living one’s life the way they envision it can shape decisions and prompt them into action. It plays right into the need for self-actualization. In fact, according to the self-determination theory by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci, the value of intrinsic motivation for doing something is more powerful than any outside motivation.
Imagine someone who cleans their room just because they’re told to do so. Now, imagine that same person cleaning their room because they themselves want a more orderly environment. The latter will always have a cleaner room.
In business, this concept has the potential to earn not just sustainable revenue, but genuine loyalty. By relinquishing control to the consumer, businesses are allowing them to decide that they actually need those products, and it puts them in the position of being accountable for the success or failure of their purchases.
Here are a few examples of how control can be given back to the customers and just how much better businesses can thrive because of it.
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The iPod Success Story
When the iPod came out, it was utterly revolutionary. It signaled the end of the era when people had to wade through massive collections and discographies just so they could listen to a couple of songs they liked.
With the iPod, putting your own playlists together became possible. This simple idea of letting people shape their music listening experience appealed to the basic human desire for control. Just a few short years later, streaming services like Spotify are now king. They are reaping these same benefits through these same concepts.
But the ability to build playlists wasn’t the only thing that the iPod did right. According to Hubspot, the device’s marketing also reflected the concept of handing over control to its users. By highlighting artists like Eminem and Lady Gaga in their ad campaigns, Apple showed people that they, too, can be individualistic. They, too, can become the person they wanted to be.
Like what was mentioned above, Spotify’s biggest selling proposition is that people can listen to whatever they want, whenever they want. They took the iPod formula and turned it into this gigantic machinery powered by the internet. They gave people the option to handpick songs from all over the world, from all over history. The people love it. The company reported a total revenue of €1.7 billion in the third quarter of 2019.
Netflix has a similar value proposition. People are no longer slaves to what big TV networks wanted to show them. People now have control over what and when to watch. Now, amid these Covid-19 lockdowns, millions have turned to Netflix and other similar sites for their daily dose of entertainment. The company showed earnings of almost $6 billion in Q1 2020.
Brilliant products merely facilitate the consumer’s autonomy. One of the most iconic innovations in recent history to embody this facilitation is the smartphone. Having a computer and even a virtual assistant at one’s beck and call has been phenomenal for people’s autonomy. The fact that these computers have access to a whole world of information also helped in changing how people viewed everything.
The degree of autonomy afforded to consumers by these smartphones opened countless doors. The ability to download and use apps for virtually anything under the sun has also been instrumental in personalizing the smartphone experience. People can use these devices to communicate, work, learn, entertain themselves, and so much more.
Now, the concept is taken further into other devices. Even kitchen appliances are smart now. But all of these smart tools are still loyal to the idea of helping people shape their own lives. They empower users to fulfill their own wishes in meaningful ways. The future looks quite promising with these smart devices.
Other Notable Applications
Healthcare’s last mile problem is a little different than that of internet connectivity. It stems from the disconnect between medical treatments and medications and the patient’s ability and even inclination to help themselves. By giving a little bit of control and accountability back to patients, the last mile can be bridged. Empowering the patients with their own healthcare will help them understand that without their own buy-in, no treatment can help. That’s why applications like patient portals make a lot of difference. They give patients access to their own information. They help patients keep track and take ownership of their own healthcare.
Aside from the ambience, customer service, and the ever-friendly staff, cafes have come a long way with the help of drink customization. The vast array of possibilities contained within a single cup of joe can entice anyone with a hankering for caffeine. The idea that you can get the exact beverage that you want is so powerful that it justifies the higher cost. The desire for control here isn’t only to taste what customers want to taste, it’s a chance to express their individuality – a recurring theme in this globalized age.