Monday, October 16, 2017

Facilitate Recurring Survey Completion

Retailers who want to stay sensitive to customers might choose to administer satisfaction surveys. With regular customers, retailers might choose to administer surveys repeatedly. Study results from University of San Diego and Boston College argue that you might choose to think carefully before doing so. Surveys administered after each transaction, for example, generally irritate customers. The frequent customers question whether the retailer has been able to use all the information already provided. The infrequent customers view the survey as a trick to stay in touch and sell more rather than as genuine requests for constructive critiques.
     Negative effects of frequent surveys are more likely when the retailer is additionally reaching out to customers in other ways, such as via promotional mailings. The negative effects in the studies included longer times between visits to the retailer and lower purchase amounts from revisits.
     To get the best from a customer survey program, then, take care not to administer the questionnaires too frequently. How to tell the right frequency? Based on my experience in conducting such programs, I suggest that before asking a customer to complete another survey, you analyze results and tell the customer what actions you are taking in response to what you learned. And if you aren’t taking any action, even the action of looking more carefully at a potential problem, why put out another survey request? There are less intrusive ways to stay in touch with your customers.
     Beyond this, keep it easy for customers to feel they are sharing their important thoughts with you:
  • Avoid “and,” “or,” and “not” in items. When an item contains an “and” or an “or,” the customer might agree with one part and disagree with another part. They don’t know how to answer. A “not” in an item, such as, “I am not sure if the repair was successful,” is needlessly complicated. 
  • Include an “Other” or “Don’t know” as a reply alternative. Without this option, survey respondents feel overly restricted. Then follow with “Please tell us more below,” and leave a welcoming, unintimidating inch of space for a comment. In online administrations, allow the respondent to type more as the box scrolls down. 
  • Ask advice, not expectations. Advice questions are of the form, “What items of advice do you have for our store?” Expectations questions are of the form, “What are your expectations of our store?” Expectations can set off customer frustrations. 
For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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Unknot Distortions from Using “Not”
Add “Please State” to “Other” Choice
Vent Sour Tastes When Surveying Consumers
To Build Loyalty, Ask Advice, Not Expectations
Monitor Your Thanks to Customers

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Set Appeals of Product Touch in Concrete

When salespeople entice shoppers to actually touch products being considered for purchase, those shoppers become more interested in purchasing an item, are more willing to pay for higher quality, and are less likely to return purchases they’ve made. These factors can provide advantages for store-based retailers who are competing with online channels. Researchers from University of Michigan, Lanzhou University, and Sun Yat-Sen University find that these advantages are significantly stronger when shoppers are thinking concretely.
     Features of products you sell can be concrete—such as the average time between repairs—or abstract—such as a general claim of high quality. Sales pitches using words and phrases like apple, engine, hammer, “Notice the volume,” and, “What steps do you take to stay healthy?,” are more concrete than pitches using words and phrases like aptitude, essence, hatred, “It livens you up,” and, “What motivates you to stay healthy?”
     There’s reason to believe that guiding the shopper toward the concrete comes not only from the language you use, but also from product arrangement. For instance, studies at Erasmus University, Loughborough School of Business and Economics, and Norwegian School of Management, find that shoppers are more interested in concrete features when gazing down at the merchandise and more interested in abstract claims when peering up.
     With shoppers clearly showing abstract reasoning at the time of sale, don’t bother inviting them to touch the merchandise. Touch does have downsides. Researchers at University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, and Arizona State University verify what most of us would have predicted: Customers have less attraction to an item on a rack or shelf when they're thinking about who else has touched it. They feel disgusted at the idea the product could have been contaminated by other shoppers.
     To cancel out the downsides in shops serving touchers, adjacent to, but separate from, shelving and racks that hold the items to be purchased, have sample items which can be handled. Have staff frequently refold, repackage, and re-shelve in order to remove cues of product contamination. To reduce fears of contamination, space out items on racks and shelves.
     Further, researchers at University of Southern California and University of Texas-Austin say that even with shoppers who are thinking concretely, you should subsequently switch to the abstract after getting the touch. You want people to spend time contemplating why to buy. Abstract words and phrases help accomplish that.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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Reach Out for What Will Touch Your Shoppers
Cement Positives by Spotting Concretes
Look It Up: Abstract Benefits Above Shoppers
Head Off Concerns About Touching Products
Sense the Pleasure from Tactile Ordering

Monday, October 9, 2017

Mean More with Mean Ratings

Your shoppers, whether beginning their search in-store or online, are likely to look for ratings when comparing alternatives. An item with an average rating of four stars should prevail over one with an average rating of two stars, all else considered, and the customer will probably feel more satisfied after having made such a four-star choice.
     But does the format of the ratings make a difference in purchase intentions? Is it best for the retailer to present an average four-star rating in a mean format—just the four stars; in a distribution format—the percentage of ratings at each point on the scale from one to five, let’s say; or as both the mean and the distribution?
     Researchers at New Mexico State University and University of Nevada-Reno find that the mean format is the most likely of the three to lead to purchase of an alternative under consideration. The reason is that, of the three formats, the mean format is easiest for the shopper to mentally process, what is easier to process leaves us with a more positive feeling, and positive feelings lead to buying behavior.
     Ease of processing is especially important with rating comparisons because the shopper’s choices are not always straightforward. Consumer psychologists distinguish between “maximizers,” who want to choose the best possible alternative, and “satisficers,” who are pleased to settle for what’s good enough. Maximizers are usually willing to pay more money than satisficers and to spend more time deciding. But some maximizers are bargain hunters, searching for a deal on the very best. Other maximizers are happy to pay top dollar if they can depend on a trusted salesperson to quickly point them toward perfection.
     Researchers at Virginia Tech and University of Michigan showed that another complication arises from how maximizers define “very best.” One group of shoppers were asked to express degree of preference for an item rated 60 on a 100-point scale when all the other choices are rated at no higher than 50. For another group of shoppers, the focus item was rated at 80 and the alternatives topped out at a rating of 95.
     It might seem that maximizers in the “80 versus 95” group would express a stronger preference for their focus item than did maximizers in the “60 versus 50” group. But it turned out the other way around. Maximizers pay attention to relative in addition to absolute ratings.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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Loosen Strict Categories
Absolve Maximizers of Solely Absolutes
Shape Customer Reviews to Your Advantage
Correct for Language Preference on Surveys
Explore What’s Behind the Numbers

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Move the Food

You will sell more food when shoppers consider the food to be fresh. An intriguing technique for suggesting freshness is to show the food in motion, according to researchers at Cornell University and Israel’s Ono Academic College.
     In a series of studies, participants were shown photos of foods and beverages such as pretzels, cornflakes, yogurt, and orange juice. In some cases, the photos showed the item sitting in a bowl or cup. In other cases, the photos were of the item being poured into the container.
     Consumers judged items to be fresher and predicted items would be tastier in those instances where the foods and beverages were shown being poured.
     The researchers hypothesize the effect is due to both evolution and learning. Running water is less likely than still water to harbor bacteria. Plant-based foods are less likely to be spoiled while still on living, moving trees. Asian wet markets keep live edible animals on hand because this reassures shoppers about the freshness of the meat.
     Other studies suggest that perception of motion can facilitate sales because this involves the viewer. Researchers at Northwestern University and University of Minnesota point out how when people see a baseball hit with great force, they often have a momentary feeling of certainty the ball will go out of the park. They get involved.
     Notice that in the Cornell/Ono research, photos, not videos, were used to portray motion. It’s not necessary to keep mechanically moving the food around on a shelf in order to move the food out the door in customers’ shopping bags.
     Further, packages you carry on your shelves which include green in the label are more likely to be perceived as fresh. Show consumers from throughout the world green product packaging and you'll probably hear descriptions like new, organic, healthy, and refreshing. If the packages themselves don’t have green, you can use green in the signage or even on the shelf tags. The freshness appeal of green is stronger when the store environment is tidy and there is a scent of pine.
     Still, the researchers in many of these studies caution that these ways of signaling freshness are not the same as ensuring the food is actually fresh. We’ll always want to back up the claims, especially when those claims are depending on evolutionary predisposition and subconscious triggering. When food’s expired, move it for sure, but to the trash.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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Portray Freshness in CPGs
Beware Flawed Predictions from Animations
Show Shoppers Selective Transparency

Monday, October 2, 2017

Schmooze Away Problems for Seniors

When fashion retailer Eileen Fisher was sensing a disconnect between customer expectations and store salesperson behavior, management hired consulting firm IDEO to spot the problem. What IDEO determined was that as the retailer moved their target markets toward younger consumers, shopper sought quicker, less intimate interactions. Analyzing the incident later, researchers at Harvard University, Boston University, and GfK said the customers wanted more of a fling than a love affair with Eileen Fisher.
     But as retailers move in the opposite direction, appealing to the burgeoning audience of senior citizens, the changes should be toward increased socializing, not less, and store staff should be coached accordingly. Older adults go to stores as much or more for the recreational experience of shopping than for the merchandise they purchase.
     Still, as researchers at Indian Institute of Management state in a comprehensive review of the literature on selling to seniors, the schmoozing should be more than idle chatter. It should be addressed toward understanding problems presented by the shopper and then helping to resolve those problems. Some problems are strictly logistical, such as trouble reading labels in small print, fetching an item that’s out of reach, or getting a small enough size of the item. Other problems facing the shopper, and by extension the retailer, might require sustained effort and referrals in order to remedy. 
     The desire for socializing comes when younger family members pull away or because physical problems make it more difficult or more fearsome to socialize freely. The attractiveness of diving into problem solving arises in part because as we age, we become increasingly aware that our time on earth does end. Older people generally perceive themselves as having more time than money, but with their bank of time still being limited. The Indian Institute of Management researchers propose that retailers segment target audiences of seniors on the basis of how far away from the end of life they perceive themselves to be. This differs from the approach we take to market segmentation with children and younger adults, which we base on the duration since birth.
     Along with schmoozing, notice any companions with the shopper. If the companions are clearly younger and the senior defers to their judgment, this shopper likely has a higher cognitive age. If companions are of similar age to the senior shopper and the senior participates actively in purchase decisions, the cognitive age is probably lower.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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Fling Shoppers for Thrills
Emphasize Emotions with Older Consumers
Supply Quality Time to Senior Shoppers
Retire Hopes for Unitary Retirement Marketing
Store Goodwill with Seniors