Monday, June 26, 2017

Empower Indirectly Using Co-creation

You increase your persuasiveness when you incorporate into what you’re offering the ideas of those you aim to persuade. A chief example of this point is that if your shoppers are invited to participate in the customization of products or services they’re considering for purchase, they become more likely to purchase those items. They’ll also like the items better after they do purchase them.
     It makes sense that people buy into what reflects their preferences. But there’s more to it. Even when the consumer for a product, service, or idea doesn’t take you up on the invitation to co-create, they’ll be more open to considering the item. Researchers at Wageningen University and InSites Consulting find that the brand image of a store improves when it gains a reputation for collaborating with customers in the design of what they sell. People who hear about it from friends become indirectly more persuadable by the retailer. They consider the store staff to be more authentic and sincere than they otherwise would.
     The type of collaboration being considered here is different from the personalization of individual items for purchase only by the co-creating consumer. Instead, this collaboration has to do with the design of and selling strategies for products and services to be offered by the retailer to an entire target audience.
     Empowerment is included in the explanation of why an invitation to co-produce impresses those who do so plus those who have only learned about it but did not participate. Knowing we have the choice of being asked to be listened to gives us a sense of power, we enjoy the feeling, and we consequently like to continue interacting with those who help us feel that way.
     In exploring this same issue, researchers at Aarhus University and Bocconi University point out that two conditions are necessary for the consumers who do the co-creation to experience the empowerment which leads to increased purchase potential: First, the consumers must believe they have sufficient expertise to make good suggestions. Second, they must see clear evidence that their suggestions have been used.
     Invite your target consumers to participate in the design of products they buy from you, the delivery of services, and the layout of environments in which they shop. Invite those others you are wanting to persuade to collaborate with you in forming opinions and developing influential arguments to convince people those opinions are correct.

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

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Effect Endowment via Customer Coproduction
Cojoin the Stages of Coproduction
Puff Down for Authenticity
Hover Within the Shopper’s Power Level
Use Ideas Designed by Users

Monday, June 19, 2017

Salt Shoppers’ Truth with Conviction

One spring afternoon during my sixth year of life while I was playing outside my Uncle Jack’s house, I saw a strikingly attractive bird. My desire to have that bird as a pet so I could look at it whenever I chose appeared as quickly and strongly as if I’d just spotted a must-have toy at the store. At dinnertime, after I told my uncle about my wish, he said, “Well, you can capture the bird if you can put salt on its tail.”
     My Uncle Jack didn’t smile when he said that, so I wasn’t really sure whether he was kidding me. Still, I realized my Uncle Jack rarely smiled. He was a caring, yet gruff, lawyer who advocated aggressively for clients my uncle believed and felt had been wronged by society. Not that his beliefs and feelings were always in accord. My Uncle Jack loved to watch professional wrestling, vigorously cheering the matches on TV. He was especially taken with Gorgeous George, whose effeminate antics and credo of “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!” drew crowds who relished booing him.
     When I was older, I recognized how my uncle believed the professional wrestling matches were staged, but got joy from feeling they were genuine. It’s a phenomenon called kayfabe. Every theatrical production, World Wrestling Entertainment match and beyond, depends for success on presenting something the consumer would believe is fake if analyzing it, while signing on to the agreement to feel what’s seen and heard is genuine. Decades after Gorgeous George, comedian Stephen Colbert referred to this phenomenon in political discourse as truthiness.
     To the degree that retailing is theatre, let’s recognize how feelings can trump beliefs as a shopper is deciding whether and what to purchase. We’ve no interest in defrauding consumers, so it’s essential our conviction is justified when making recommendations. Actually, that conviction is also essential in maintaining a phenomenon like kayfabe. The wrestlers in the ring and the actors on the stage or screen must behave as though they really feel it themselves.
     So I figure my uncle was justified in not smiling when responding to my dinnertime wish. The suggestion he gave me was accurate, even if not in the way I initially understood. If you get close enough to a bird to put salt on its tail, you certainly can capture it. Simply grab the creature.

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

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Give Shoppers Reason to Believe
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Monday, June 12, 2017

Undertake Underdog Appeals with Morals

For years, I’ve advised small to midsize retailers to develop niches in order to hold their own against Big Box stores. By specializing, you carry within a niche both an item selection and a level of expertise more comprehensive than large multi-category retailers usually do. However, the advantage of a niche has been fading as ecommerce blossoms in the marketplace. Online vendors frequently offer almost limitless selections because they can obtain the items from suppliers after a customer places the order. It’s still a valuable advantage to maintain high expertise about what you sell. But you might want to substitute another feature for the claim of comprehensive selection.
     How about saying you’re the underdog? It’s easier for you to claim that mantle than for a large retailer to do it. In our culture, underdog narratives draw empathy for those who in the face of resource shortages are determined to prevail. When researchers at Harvard University, Simmons College, and Boston College offered a choice of chocolate bar brands to study participants, the brand positioned as the underdog was selected about 70% of the time over the other brands.
     However, be careful when featuring your store as the underdog. People root for the underdog, yet associate with winners. Show that you’ve the makings for ultimate success. You’ll also want others to see you as a good sport. You could advertise with a negative frame (“The other store is bad, and our store is good”) or a positive frame (“The other store is good, and our store is even better”). Researchers at New York University and Vanderbilt University recommend accentuating the positive. Negatively framed comparatives draw more counterarguments from shoppers.
     Researchers at University of Maryland and Georgetown University say underdog positioning helps the most if your target markets see you as sincere, fair, principled, honest, trustworthy, and less than supremely competent.
     Yes, retailers who are viewed as highly competent don’t get as much added appeal from portraying themselves as underdogs. It’s when there are concerns about expertise that the combination of moral traits with underdog appeal makes a big difference.
     The researchers explain this by saying moral businesses are the kinds we like to reward. It’s not a matter of personal warmth, though. The underdog narrative didn’t help much with a retailer seen as sociable, playful, happy, and funny. After all, the shopper is usually seeking a buyer-seller relationship, not a friendship.

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

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Motivate the Rushed Toward Motivated Reasoning

In making sales, you’d like to minimize the surprises, especially the unexpected item returns. How helpful, then, that researchers at University of Miami, University of California-Riverside, and Baruch College are alerting us to a circumstance where we could get blindsided: When a shopper in a hurry, thrilled with the item we’ve recommended, turns strongly against the purchase as they later encounter information about the alternatives. The surprise is the researcher’s finding that the stronger the customer’s enthusiasm about that initial alternative, the stronger the subsequent rejection.
     The explanation has to do with what social psychologists call “cognitive dissonance.” Consumer psychologists usually know it as “buyer’s remorse.” When someone chooses a product, they often later have doubts that they made the right decision. This is more likely when they later get information about the good features of the other possible choices.
     Still, why would the people who are most thrilled with the first alternative have the strongest doubts afterwards? It would seem that they’d be the ones most likely to defend their initial choice to themselves and others. In fact, this is what generally happens when a number of alternatives are considered all at once before the choice is made. In this situation, those who are most confident about their choice will have the least buyer’s remorse.
     But when a shopper in a rush finds relief in selecting the first alternative presented so they can move on, information they’ll encounter later about other alternatives produces the greatest amount of dissonance among those who were most convinced they made the right choice. These are the customers who, when the time pressure has passed, will come back to your store wanting a refund or exchange.
     How to avoid the problem? Well, at the start, do recommend to the shopper the alternative you believe will best serve them. If the customer’s in a rush, lead with that one. Still, encourage the rushed shopper to slow down enough for you to show more than one alternative and to give information about all the choices. But if needing to handle the issue later, the researchers suggest you engage the customer in a counterpart of cognitive dissonance which is called “motivated reasoning.” Discuss with the person why they made the choice they did and why you supported their decision at the time. Reignite the passion and relief your customer experienced at the time of original selection.

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

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Face Resistance to Shopper-Facing Technology

Technological innovations can increase a retailer’s revenues and decrease a retailer’s costs. Those advantages must be weighed against the expenses of purchase, maintenance, and use of the technologies. Researchers at University of Pittsburgh and Boston College point out that another offset stems from shopper resistances to the technologies in the store.
     Among the shopper-facing technologies considered in the researchers’ studies were self-scanning of purchases at a checkout station or at the points where items are selected; monitoring via infrared sensors of checkout wait times; and facial recognition software to allow personalized purchase recommendations or discount offers. The results of a statistical analysis of shopper reactions to these and related technologies identified the two sorts of resistances we’d expect, but with some emotion components at a strength we might not anticipate:
  • Sufficient value. Consumers ask if the extra time and effort required of them to use the technology is balanced by their savings in time or money. An emotion component is the feeling of fairness. Are the procedures for use of the technology a fair request? Are the benefits from its use a fair return? If there are problems with the use, are shoppers treated equitably? 
  • Privacy concerns. Consumers ask if information gathered about them via the technologies is used to violate what they want to keep confidential. One emotion component is trust. Is the information gathered with the consent of the shopper, and is the shopper aware of how the information is used? Another emotion component is referred to by the researchers as “creepiness.” An infrared sensor watching you differs from a person watching you. 
     Acceptance of change comes with time. The early history of ATMs at banks included customer complaints that service quality was deteriorating and that tellers they’d grown to know and like would be losing jobs. It seemed unfair. Those complaints faded as customers experienced the advantages of transacting business when the bank lobby was closed and as use of the ATM became a familiar habit. Similarly, as consumers become experienced with other data-gathering methods intruding into their lives, the methods used with shopper-facing technologies in retailing won’t seem so disconcerting by comparison.
     Still, the time to acceptance will shorten when you face the emotions head on. The enthusiasm of the retailer with these technologies often isn’t shared by the customers unless the retailer takes steps to prove the fairness and eliminate the creepiness.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

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