Monday, November 17, 2014

Modify Feature/Feasibility Mix to Match Mood

A happy, confident shopper behaves differently from a sad, confused shopper. That fact was shown in a research study based at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Chinese University of Hong Kong, a study which refined a classic finding in consumer psychology.
     The classic finding is that when people are shopping for items to be used some time from now, they'll pay special attention to the number and distinctiveness of the items’ features. But when consumers plan to put the item to work soon, they're especially interested in ease of use.
     This newer research concludes that how this operates depends on the shopper’s mood. If the shopper’s objective is to make a carefully considered purchase decision, the classic finding holds more strongly for happy shoppers than for sad shoppers. However, if the shopper’s objective is to make a quick decision, the classic finding holds more strongly for sad than for happy shoppers.
     Other researchers looking at this issue suggest that with high-confidence shoppers, you describe the overall and longer-term benefits of the product or service you’d like the shopper to buy. If it’s a health club membership, these high-level benefits could include the possibilities of a longer life and relief from physical pain. By contrast, with low-confidence shoppers, the benefits of interest could center on items like the ease of getting to the health club.
     For a product like an big screen TV, the high-level benefits could be the ability of the family to enjoy programs together, while the low-level benefits could be the ease of operation.
     In some cases, you can guess how soon a shopper plans to start using the purchase. Certain items are likely to be last-minute searches. Floral bouquets and hot water heaters come to mind. With these, you don't need to depend on sales staff contact to get the message across. In your advertising and signage, you could feature ease of delivery, ease of installation, ease of learning, and other angles on ease of use.
     With other purchases, it pays to ask shoppers how soon they plan to start using what they’re considering. Knowing this allows you to present the most compelling balance between desirability and feasibility benefits, between the emotional appeal and the objective assessment. You don't have time to tell the prospect everything. Home in on what will make a sale which benefits both the purchaser and your bottom line.

Click below for more: 
Satisfy Sad Shoppers with Prompt Rewards 
Accent the Emotions when Imminent Usage 
Present High-Level Benefits to the Confident 
Inject Distance for Price-Quality Link 
Shorten the Term of Retail Therapy 
Emphasize the Price to Spotlight Functionality

Monday, November 10, 2014

Retail Politics

I’ve been walking precincts since Lyndon Baines Johnson ran for president. I knock on doors, announce my intentions to make a case for the candidate or issue I’m favoring, ask to leave a brochure, offer to answer questions, engage voters willing to be engaged, and afterwards be on my way.
     I enjoy precinct walking because it’s retail politics—making a pitch to voters one-to-one or one-to-family and keeping the pitch local. For the last couple of months, the three campaign signs in my front yard were all for school board and city council candidates, not for the statewide or federal races. My only walking this election season was for Curtis Hunt, whom I wanted to retain his seat on the Vacaville, California city council. Retail politics is a logical counterpart to my particular interest in the success of small to midsize locally-based retail businesses.
     I also enjoy precinct walking because it’s an opportunity to explore consumer psychology. With that in mind, I decided to conduct a little experiment this time: I alternated house-to-house between two ways of greeting those who opened their door:
  • “Hello, I’m campaigning for Curtis Hunt for city council. May I leave a brochure and answer any questions you have about Curtis?” 
  • “Hello, I’m volunteering for Curtis Hunt for city council. May I leave a brochure and answer any questions you have about Curtis?” 
     The responsiveness was noticeably better when I said I was volunteering rather than campaigning. I believe that’s because in my retailing my politics, “volunteering” communicated more personal commitment than did “campaigning,” and consumers value personal commitment in a seller.
     Another extension of my retailing my politics to retailing generally has to do with the value in screening prospects. Curtis gave me a list of likely voters’ addresses. But I screened further. When I saw a small sign reading “No Soliciting,” I rang the doorbell anyway, and it ended up being one of my most satisfying interchanges. When I’d see one of those signs that reads something like, “No Soliciting. We’ve found Jesus. We’ve plenty of insurance. We know who we’re voting for.”, I’d leave a door hanger campaign piece and move on. When I encountered a “No Soliciting. Dangerous Dog.” sign while hearing the sounds of barking and some large creature hurling itself against the front door, I moved on even more quickly.
     The end of the story: Curtis did win reelection.

Click below for more: 
Lift Up Your Local Community 
Vote for Selective Understanding & Recall 
Announce Limits on Item-Based Loyalty Programs

Monday, November 3, 2014

Show Devoted Customers How to Get Lucky

Customers who believe they’ve gone above and beyond to patronize your store feel luckier when shopping with you. Studies at Ohio State University and Vanderbilt University find that these extra-effort shoppers show a special interest in games of chance, such as sweepstakes and random rewards.
     Other research finds that a shopper’s belief they’ve made an extra effort can arise in a variety of ways:
  • Shopping with you at high frequency 
  • Driving a longer distance to shop with you 
  • Selecting an item with plans to use it in the future rather than now 
  • Choosing an item for use by somebody else 
  • Shopping with children in tow 
     If you’ve many shoppers like these, consider engaging them with game formats. People have always loved to play games used as sales promotions. Scratch-off discounts. Sweepstakes. “Design our new logo” or “Name our new service” or “Tell us in 25 words or less why you shop at our store.”
     In the early days, before it was called gamification, retailers and manufacturers concluded that there needed to be real, tangible prizes for maximum participant involvement, although the value of the prizes often could be quite modest. People got involved for the joy of the contest.
     More recently, marketers realized that no extrinsic reward is needed if the excitement of the game is sufficient, as happens with shoppers who are feeling lucky. This love of the game blossomed with the popularity of desktop computers and then the sorts of mobile and desktop devices shoppers use for ecommerce. The word “gaming” morphed from serving as a euphemism for “gambling” into a shorthand for “playing games on a computerized gadget.”
     With customer loyalty programs, the reward could be promotion to the next level—a concept quite familiar to those who play online games.
     Here are some tips for maintaining multitier loyalty programs, based on experimental research findings and retailer experiences:
  • For movement to the next level, set thresholds which are out of grasp, but within reach. 
  • Provide lots of ways to earn credits for movement to the next level. Referring a friend earns points. “Get extra credit for coming to special event sales, even if you end up purchasing nothing.” The objective is to maintain momentum and a sense of achievability. 
  • Set thresholds on the basis of continuing activity, not lifetime activity with you. Maintain purchasing motivation by requiring ongoing actions in order to receive the elite benefits. 
Click below for more: 
Drive the Psychological Distance 
Game On with Consumer Competition 
Tier Your Loyalty Programs Apart 
Cultivate Positive Moods for Risk Assessment 
Announce Limits on Item-Based Loyalty Programs

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mix or Match to Affect Perceived Duration

Retailers who sell experiences—a positive experience such as a day at the amusement park or a necessarily less pleasant experience such as a root canal in the dentist’s chair—can influence how long the consumer perceives the experience to last.
     The tool to use is categorization. Researchers at University of Chicago and New York University find that when we group the different parts of the experience into categories, it makes the whole experience seem shorter. When we unbundle the components, the total experience seems longer.
     The amusement park retailer could make a day at the park seem longer by emphasizing individual components rather than categorizing them. A guide brochure to the park would point out the mix of rides, games, eateries, and restrooms in each area. A listing of all the attractions in each category could be provided in the brochure for the visitor’s convenience, but the visitor would be encouraged to move among a variety of types of experience. The tour operator who wants the trip to seem like the customer is getting more for the money would intersperse music events, historical stops, and sporting events on the schedule rather than group the different types together.
     On the other hand, the dentist could begin by describing to the patient the three major stages of the procedure, let’s say, and then, as each of the individual steps is undertaken, refer to it being a part of the first, second, or third stage. This will help the patient to perceive the entire procedure as shorter.
     All of this happens at a subconscious level. That’s important to keep in mind because the rules get reversed if the consumer starts focusing on the actual duration. Researchers at University of Toronto found that being told how long a bad experience will last makes it seem less tolerable.
     In this situation, encourage the consumer to unpack the time estimates, guessing on their own how long each step will take for them rather than only accept a time for the total given by somebody else.
     The reason this works is that we don’t like to spend time on unpleasant tasks, so we tend to predict we’ll get them done quickly. It operates the other way around for a list of experiences a consumer finds pleasant. Here, when the time estimates are unpacked, the total predicted duration grows. The customer thinks it will take longer.

Click below for more: 
Stick It to Shoppers with In-Store Experiences 
Sell More by Adding Variety 
Extract Uncertainty When Pulling Teeth 
Escort Shoppers on In-Store Travel
Unpack Unpleasant Experience Time Estimates 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Flex Shoppers with the Complex

Consumers often seek simplicity, but the right level of complexity can engage them in ways which move them toward becoming purchasers. Researchers at University of London, University of Groningen, and Università della Calabria found this to be true with logos. When a store or brand logo was easier to perceive, people liked it better at first. However, with repeated exposures to the logo, the attraction turned to dislike. The simplicity became boring.
     On the other hand, when the meaning of the logo was challenging to discern, people didn’t like it as much at the start, but grew to especially like it with repeated exposures.
     In the documentary “Milton Glaser: Inform & Delight,” Mr. Glaser attributes the success of his “I ♥ NY” logo to what he calls “sustained mystery,” whereby a consumer absorbs the design message better because of needing to figure out what the design means.
     Research findings from Indiana University and University of Colorado-Boulder indicate the value of a mystery ad format, in which you wait until the end to announce the retailer’s name. Start off with an unusual story or absurd humor that dramatizes the category of retailer, but hooks the ad’s viewer or listener into thinking “Who’s this commercial for, anyway?”
     Consumers tolerate perceptual complexity if they consider the task important. University of Florida and University of Pennsylvania researchers assigned study participants to select among airline flights. Some were told the decision was important. The others were told the decision was relatively unimportant. And some members of each group were given the information in a way that was hard to read, while the remainder were given easy-to-read information. The hard-to-read text used a small font and little contrast between the text and the background. The easy-to-read text used a larger font and clear contrast.
     Those in the first group presented the hard-to-read text made more careful decisions.
     Researchers at University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University found circumstances in which retailers do well to actually complicate choice. Among these are purchase decisions the consumer considers as having potentially life-changing consequences. Some of these situations, such as buying a house, extend over time. Others, such as selecting funeral arrangements, could last no more than a day or two.
     Because of the significance of such choices, the consumer believes they should devote time and mental effort even if the process seems at first to constitute a straightforward selection.

Click below for more: 
Sustain Mystery, But Not for Too Long 
Mire Customers as Calamity Prevention 
Look Simple, But Offer Complexity 
Let Go of the Unprofitable Logo