the Justin Brady Show

Startups and large companies are making big moves to reduce friction in all its forms, but that might actually hurt the customer experience, explains Soon Yu, author of the forthcoming book Friction. He has concrete examples that show adding more steps creates an affinity for your brand.

This clever customer strategy is why Betty Crocker boosted sales by adding work for their customers, why Hermès puts customers through hoops to acquire a Birkin Bag, and why Ben Franklin asked people for favors to improve relationships.


Examples of good friction

Yu gives plenty of examples of what he calls “good friction.” Hermès makes the process to buy a Birkin Bag extremely difficult. They hold the bags in the back of the store, and may even ask you to buy other items before giving you access to even see their bags. The thrill of the hunt makes it worth it for some of their customers to pony up $11k. Nike does something similar with exclusive new product releases by creating a kind of real-world hunt for their customers.

Friction by Soon Yu
Friction by Soon Yu

Similarly, Betty Crocker boosted cake mix sales by removing some ingredients, then requiring customers to add an egg. Universal Studios even has an extensive process in Harry Potter World for visitors to get a wand.


The EMBRACE Process

To bring good friction to life, Yu outlines the elements that brands can follow.

Exclusivity – Playing Hard to Get

Meaning – Give it some depth

Belonging – It takes a tribe

Rapport – Forging bonds that last

Assurance – Let’s double-check

Competence – Gaining by training

Engagement – Make them laugh, make them cry


Friction, by Soon Yu

Soon Yu’s new book, Friction, Adding Value By Making Your Customers Work For It!, comes out in March.

Sign up for updates at his website.


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