Insights into Consumer Psychology: Help! I Can’t Decide Which Computer To Buy

I want to buy laptop or netbook ASAP. I have been researching for months. I want something lightweight and inexpensive. Here’s my short list:

  1. Do nothing. keep using my good old Dell Latitude 410 with the awesome, new 9-cell battery I bought myself for the new year.
  2. Go buy an iPad $500 – $1,000.
  3. Buy an Acer netbook for $300-$400 from Amazon, Best Buy or Walmart.
  4. Buy a Sony netbook for $450.
  5. Buy a Dell netbook for $250 – $300 from either Dell, Amazon or Best Buy.
  6. Buy a new Dell laptop for $600 – $1,000, perhaps a Vostro 13 or Latitude 13.

The iPad is fast and sexy. It might very well represent the future of user interfaces. However, it’s expensive, and like most things Apple, it’s overly proprietary. And while surfing the net might be my primary function, email is my secondary function; I really need MS Office and a keyboard, two things the iPad can’t provide.

Do I get a Dell Latitude 13 or Vostro 13? These are the laptops that I think I want; unfortunately, they are backordered by a couple weeks and I can’t wait. My Dell rep offered to “attempt to expedite it,” but he said he couldn’t guarantee any lead times other than two weeks.

Do I wait for the sexy Lenovo Skylight? It’s supposed to come out any week now, but there are rumors of poor YouTube performance. And oh yeah, no release date or pricing info is available.

Audience Segment of “Researchers” & “Slow Deciders” use the Internet to Buy

I am one of those consumers who can’t make a major purchase without fully researching all of the options and having a very high degree of confidence in my purchase.

I do my research online. I also like buying online. While I enjoy some real-world shopping; for me, going to Walmart or Best Buy or Fry’s is a bit like going to the dentist – I go twice a year, and no more.

Some buying decisions are not rational. If I spend 30 hours researching a purchase to save $100; I am not being rational. I guess I derive value from researching and knowing I made the right purchase.

Sophistical Online Applications Are Useful

One thing I like about the Dell web site is that it lets you perform complex searches of their products. I can tell the Dell web site to show me all laptops that are:

  1. Less than $800
  2. Weigh under 5 lbs
  3. Include a DVD optical drive, and
  4. Come with Windows 7.


Too Many Choices Delay Purchases

I can’t believe what a mistake Dell makes in the breadth of their product line. Using the criteria above, they offer me 21 different customizable configurations as a starting point.


Ugly Web Sites and Poor Product Naming Discourage Purchases

Sony has the coolest web site of any consumer electronics company. Lenovo has the worst.

Unfortunately, Sony’s product naming for laptops is terrible.  Hey Sony! Consumers don’t want to remember The “W” Model versus the “E” versus the “Z” versus the “M”. Like Dell, Sony has too many choices, but at least Dell gives their products somewhat memorable names.

Acer’s products have horrible naming too; this is especially confusing for consumers who are trying to compare similar models across stores (e.g., Walmart,  Best Buy, But then again, I think the retailers do that on purpose to discourage comparison shopping and price matching.


Money-Back Guarantees are Critical for “Slow Deciders”

Dell offers a 30-day money back guarantee. Apple lets you return within 14 days, but charges a restocking fee.

Consumers rarely return computers. I haven’t used Apple products in a decade. Apple had a chance to win back my business, as I would have tried the iPad, but their lack of a money-back guarantee lost me.

My American Express card offers me return protection for up to $300 per purchase, so that provides me with some comfort if I keep my purchase small.


Eventually, the Consumer Will Buy
You can’t keep using that old laptop or that old car or that old shirt forever.

Today, while writing this post, I purchased the $325 Asus Eee Seashell 1005PE-MU17-BK 10.1-Inch Black Netbook. I also ordered the external DVD for $52. Paid $8 total to get both items delivered overnight with my Amazon Prime account.

Will this laptop meet my needs? Will I remember the model name and number? Will I be able to live with the 3-app limit of Win7 Starter Edition? Will 1GB of RAM suffice? Will I return the product? Will it make me look cool?

Find out next time, right here, on the Pop Art Blogs!  And until then, please comment and let me know if you agree with my consumer psychology.