Are you a Maximiser or a Satisficer?

Two ‘new’ types of customers have come to the attention of marketing thinkers recently : Maximisers and Satisficers!

But what are they and what does it mean for Direct Marketing?

Maximisers are inherently more active, more driven to explore every possible criteria. They think they will ultimately end up with better purchase choices. However, all that effort doesn’t mean Maximisers are necessarily happier in the end. They can feel unsure about their purchase and wonder whether they could have made a better decision.

Maximisers are often less happy overall with their purchase, and can be both disproportionately critical, and vocal about their concerns. The feedback sections of online retailers are full of the (not always positive) comments from Maximisers.

Maximisers are defined by the attention they pay to what other people think. Hence their reliance on lifestyle commentary, magazines, gurus, bloggers, critics and commentators. They rely heavily on external sources for evaluation. They are far more likely to make choices based on brand, reputation, social status, and other external cues. As marketing people, we often like to imagine everyone is a Maximiser, but this is absolutely not the case…

Meet the Satisficer. Satisficers are quite different buyers. They are happy to settle for a ‘good enough’ option. They accept that their choice may not always be the very best in all respects. However, they are far less likely to experience regret after purchase – even if they see something better afterwards.

Satisficers, in contrast to Maximisers, just want to know if their choice meets their primary needs, not whether it ticks all those many boxes, or if other people approve. They are not only not interested in working too hard to make a choice, they might be oblivious to any attempts to engage them in that decision.

Satisficers prefer to stay disconnected from the information-heavy channels – because they just don’t care as much about what others think, and prefer to spend their time doing something else. Their tastes may appear more conservative, more traditional, less trendy, less fickle. But not always – what’s more they are often happier customers.


When, where, what?

The key is to understand that people are either Maximisers or Satisficers depending on when, where and what they are buying.

Someone might be an obsessive Maximiser when it comes to fashion, but a true Satisficer when it comes to their supermarket food shop. People who were Maximisers before their child is born (when they have all that time, advice, money and motivation) quickly become Satisficers after the birth (when they have less time, and the practicalities of life with a baby become reality).

Satisficers are much more likely to be pleased and happy after a purchase, seldom dwell on the downsides and express minimum buyer regret.

How does this impact on direct marketing?

Maybe we should stop chasing the Maximisers! Well, rather than assume everyone wants the maximum possible choice, and looking for ways to provide ALL the information possible at all times, it may be better to consider the needs of the Satisficers – who require less details and often respond well to suggestions.

Direct marketing often focuses on specific offers, timescales and products. Rather than simply say ‘we have ALL this’ it might be better to look for easy sales, clear and obvious benefits, and sweeten the deal with offers and exclusives…

And it often works well because Satisficers are often the happiest customers – they are far more likely to be happy with their purchase, and therefore become repeat customers. They are more loyal because they are not so active in their continual search for better, more…