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Excluded, alienated and ignored – it’s time brands recognised introverts

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John Lewis is a brand that seems to successfully appeal to all personality types.

Brands are failing to communicate effectively with half of their customers. We all know people who are introverts but most marketing is aimed at extroverts, and made by extroverts. As a result, introverts are unintentionally alienated by a lot of marketing because brands don’t understand their needs.

What makes someone an introvert? If you agree or strongly agree with the following statements, you are highly likely (80%) to be an introvert: “I tend not to talk a lot”; “I am quiet around strangers”.

But it’s not just about how much you enjoy socialising: introverts don’t dislike company, but they feel at their most alive and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments. They’re independently minded, being much less likely to succumb to herd behavior or be overly influenced by their peers, like extroverts.

They also like to plan ahead – they don’t act on impulse like extroverts. They’re less likely to complain and make a fuss when something goes wrong, but they’re also more likely to vote with their feet, without giving the offending party a chance to make good.

So why should brands care? Introverts make up 48% of the UK population - at least half of any brand’s addressable audience at any one time. If you’ve been getting decent results based on extrovert marketing, imagine how much better your results would be if you recognised introvert preferences.

What matters to introverts?

We know that introverts like to deal with brands they trust – if you upset them they’ll vote with their feet and you won’t know it until they’ve already become another unsubscribed statistic. For introverts in particular, loyalty is a long game: building trust, keeping promises, demonstrating product reliability, good service and value, being honest and transparent.

Introverts also like to plan their purchases – they need the right information to make their decision, they’ll do the research and they’ll look to check it with the brand, ideally with a real person.

So how do we meet their needs in marketing?

I’m not suggesting we identify the personality of every customer and tag them in our databases: introverts are particularly reluctant to share data with brands they don’t already trust. But there are three simple things brands can incorporate into their marketing:

DO be authentic – Where extroverts are willing to accept brand advertising and positive buzz as shorthand for authenticity, introverts need to feel convinced of a brands quality, service and value before trusting them. To communicate effectively with introverts our goal is to inspire trust. We can do this by talking to them as another introvert might: covering topics in depth and detail rather than flitting between subjects as extrovert conversation does. For example, in a complex category like Financial Services, websites need to include all the detail in well-signposted areas (extroverts just won’t go there, but introverts will appreciate them).

DON’T shout or push– introverts hate being sold to with pushy techniques like scarcity (“while stocks last!”) and urgency (“offer ends at midnight!”). It feels like pressure and introverts hate to be rushed into a decision. They are looking for transparency, so discounts on the absolute price (eg 20% off), and bulk offers like 2 for 1 will motivate them because it’s unambiguous.

DO design for introverts – If we can persuade introverts to self-identify online (for example by clicking on an introvert-oriented display banner) we can take them on a journey that’s tailored to their needs – one that supplies the right level of detail, the right sales promotions, the right language and the opportunity to validate their research via online chat, all of which will raise the likelihood of purchasing from that brand. At Rapp we call this Adaptive Persuasion and we’re developing a proof of concept that will make this a practical reality.

Who does it best?

The most effective customer experiences and marketing are those which cater for all personality types. Perhaps the best example of this is John Lewis, a brand that inspires devotion among introverts and extroverts alike, and has, perhaps unintentionally, developed an offering which is optimized to both.

For extroverts, John Lewis has a reputation for treating its expert & engaged staff well: “John Lewis are seen to be fair... They give something back to the people that work for them. Ethical. It stands out as a brand, has a social awareness.” - Michael, 30, Extrovert

For introverts, the brand offers detailed product specs and inspires trust brilliantly: "Honesty is the main thing that I appreciate, in the sense that they are not looking to upsell just want to give you advice … when getting a new flat screen TV, I needed a wire for the internet connection, and instead of selling a new one the staff advised of one that I was likely to already have at home.” - David, 37, Introvert

Make space for introverts

So the message is clear: if brands want to market truly effectively, they need to stop excluding, alienating and ignoring the introverts in their audience. They can do this simply by making space for introverts in their customer experience; toning down their promotions and tuning up their communications. All preferably without shouting.

Jen Musgreave is planning partner at Rapp

Refereneces
1 ― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
2 – Personality & Profit, n=2000 quant survey, RAPP
3 - Edelman Trust Barometer 2015
4 - Beukeboom, C., Tanis, M., and Vermeulen, I. (2012). The Language of Extraversion: Extraverted People Talk More Abstractly, Introverts Are More Concrete. Journal of Language and Social Psychology

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