Home > Uncategorized > Broken Windows in Marketing

Broken Windows in Marketing

In social sciences there is a concept called ‘Broken Windows’.

The gist of it is that in a building if there is one broken window that is left unrepaired then pretty much soon all windows will be broken. Read full details here.

This concept was applied in real life policing in New York in the 1990s.

The logic is rather simple where if people find that a crime goes unpunished they commit more of it. Conversely sometimes there are little signs of things going wrong. If you move quickly to fix it then it sends a signal that you are serious about the big things too. Conversely if you let the little things slide then the perception that the big things get the same attention starts building.

So if you go to a restaurant the waiter’s uniform, the way the food is served all contribute to you impression of the restaurant. The Soup Nazi of Seinfeld is a rarity.

Looking back at that legend called Apple, one has read numerous stories of Steve Jobs’ obssessive attention to detail. Be it the fold in the packaging or the first product view when revealed. To him these were all Broken Windows moments and he understood that if he got these pieces wrong it would affect the impression of his brand.

We keep reading about how people’s impressions of brands are formed by their exposure to different aspects of it and it is critical that the 360 degree experience adds up to a positive synergestic whole.

Yet one often sees so many examples where marketing teams focus only on the big stuff. Perhaps it is ensuring the TV Commercial is right. Or that there is adequate supply of stock in an outlet. Or whatever is the next big thing.

With e commerce growing how do people receive their shopping? Does the laptop come in a dirty brown box with lots of stickers and looking like it went through a litter bin?

When the customer sees the bottle in the supermarket is there a layer of dust on it?

Is the POSM printing aligned?

We’ve all seen examples of this.

Last week I saw this pack and I wondered how deep the damage had gone.

Soap packaging gone wrong?What happened here? What does 3 Free 1 mean? Why is the kid chopped off?

As brands leap into social media and open new engagement platforms they are now offering far greater opportunities to present Broken Windows to their customers. Expectations are raised and must be met.

Yesterday a friend was talking about his ‘disappointment’ that a message he had left for a brand on its Facebook page had gone unanswered for 24 hours. For this person that was a Broken Window.

The theory of Broken Windows applies to brands as much as it does to society, and I guess there is no surprise there as brands live in a context of the society.

Marketers would do well to identify their windows and track if any are broken and prioritise fixing them soon. Before it’s too late

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