Consumers increasingly are looking to manufacturers to support their products long after the original warranty has expired.
And manufacturers should no longer shy away from promoting product support packages for fear of detracting from the quality image that their brands stand for.
In the real world away from the shiny brochures and gleaming showrooms, products are used, and sometimes misused, and even the best of them can sometimes play up or even break down.
This is where branded product support packages such as AppleCare go above and beyond providing a mere product repair. They provide expertise, reassurance and remedies that enhance relationships with customers and deepen brand value.
So, at a time when consumer organisations like Which in the UK and Consumer Reports in the USA often advise customers to steer clear of buying extra support after the manufacturer’s warranty has run out, why are more and more consumers paying to protect their consumer electronic and domestic electrical equipment?
According to a Harvard Business Review article by Rafi Mohammed the benefits of peace of mind are often top of mind when consumers think about a product that they would hate to be without if it developed a technical hitch or a major fault.
It is invaluable knowing that the company that built the product has an expert on hand to resolve the problem over the phone or to repair or replace it.
He cites his own experience of Dell who took care of his faulty laptop in a process that could not have been “more convenient, efficient, and stress free”. Guess which computer brand Rafi is likely to recommend?
But it is not just about “peace of mind”, it is also about protecting an investment which is as much an emotional one as a financial one. The long recession that severely dented sales of consumer products has led not only to customers keeping their domestic appliances for longer, but also to considering all aspects of a new purchase more carefully, including how well it is supported post-purchase and who should provide that support.
Offering protection plans to take care of products after the warranty period expires increases trust and growing numbers of customers are now opting to buy branded product support packages directly from the manufacturer.
A US study by Fulcrum Analytics in 2012 concluded that 37% of customers would only buy from the manufacturer, whilst a further 51% would prefer the manufacturer.
So what advantages are consumers getting when they take their support straight from the brand that made their product? Customers value 4 important benefits. These are:
- Online and telephone advice from people who really know the product
- Timely product upgrades and maintenance support
- Repairs carried out by certified product experts
- An ongoing relationship with a brand that they have bought into
For brands this last insight has real power.