Monday, September 16, 2019

Secrete Loyalty with Secret Consumption

How are Starbucks and Star Trek alike? One way, report researchers at Towson University and Kent State University, is that a certain percentage of consumers with loyalty to each of those don’t want others to know about it. Secrecy about favored brand use is not rare, the researchers found. About 60% of people in their sample said they make it a point to not use at least one of their favored brands in front of others, 22% said they lie about which brand is their favorite, and 18% said they’d deny the brand preference if asked directly.
     The motivations for such secrecy ranged widely: Avoiding conflict with friends who are loyal to other brands. Shame at using inexpensive brands, or fear of shaming others who can’t afford the expensive brands. A desire to stay distinctive. Embarrassment about the brand associations, such as a fashion line targeted to large bodies or a shampoo advertised for dandruff control. Some habitués of Starbucks fear they’d be chastised for not frequenting locally-owned cafes. Some Trekkies think their fandom would be ridiculed as juvenile.
     But across the range of reasons for brand usage secrecy, there’s a shared result: Brand loyalty grows. Secrecy increases preoccupation with the brand. It takes psychological energy to keep a secret, and even more to tell a lie. You need to remember who you lied to and what you said. As a result, those keeping the secret think about the brand more often, and that cultivates brand loyalty.
     This argues for encouraging your customers to keep their brand usage secret. What you’d give up, however, are the advantages of word-of-mouth advertising. The principle of WOM is for your satisfied customers to talk as broadly as possible about their brand usage, not keep it secret.
     Your resolution of this dilemma might be to develop a brand community of secret fans—helping these people stay in touch with each other. Results from a Harvard University study suggest you also offer shopping bags carrying the brand logo to people whether or not they use the brand. The researchers refer to users of these bags as brand tourists rather than brand immigrants. When those with secret brand loyalty see these bags being carried around, they’ll be reassured their own brand usage is acceptable and consider the public display as praise for the brand. Those carrying the bags become more likely to try the brand.

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Use Creative Ads to Avoid Benefits Overload

Enthusiastic advertisers may want to say so many good things about an item that they could easily overload the viewers of the ad. Researchers based at Appalachian State University and University of Massachusetts find that upping the creativity of the ad can help. However, this technique works only when the item being advertised is viewed by consumers as being hedonic fun rather than strictly functional.
     In the experiments, the number of benefits claims in an ad ranged from three to twelve. The ads designed to be more creative used visual puns such as a coffee cup having an on-off switch added and the “L” in an ad for an airline being replaced with an image of an open suitcase.
     When the coffee or airline travel was described to the study participants as serving a utilitarian purpose, a creative ad interfered with the ability to evaluate a larger number of claims. The respondents liked the ad less. But when the purpose of consuming the coffee or taking a flight was hedonic, creativity in the ad led to more positive impressions with the larger number of benefits.
     The explanation for this is that, when purchase motivation is hedonic, shoppers take decision making shortcuts rather than analyzing each benefits statement. They get a global impression based on more benefits being better, and they then turn to evaluating other aspects of the ad, such as creativity. The advice from all this for marketers is to load your ad with benefits statements when you succeed in making the ad creative and you’re selling the item for its hedonic appeal.
     University of Cologne studies provided five ways to assess how creative your ad is:
  • Originality. How different is the ad from other ads about similar consumption choices which are available to the consumer? 
  • Flexibility. To what degree does the ad shift from one idea to another? 
  • Elaboration. In the ad, how many different details are presented at the same time? 
  • Synthesis. How well does the ad conceptually join together divergent ideas and details? 
  • Artistic value. How well does the ad use words, music, sounds, colors, and/or images to produce aesthetic pleasure? 
     Of these five, elaboration and artistic value had the largest relative impact on moving consumers beyond remembering an ad to actually deciding where to spend their money. Although originality on its own was not particularly effective, the most powerful two-dimension combination was originality plus elaboration.

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Monday, September 2, 2019

Intimate with Intimacy for Senior Sex Appeal

In ads, it’s occasionally better to intimate—delicately hint—rather than to starkly pitch your case. One such circumstance is when using sex appeal to sell to senior citizens. That’s suggested by findings at Pennsylvania State University and at Germany’s Humboldt University, Max Planck Institute, MSB Medical School, and Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
     The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud claimed pretty much everything we do springs from the sex drive. Lots of people thought Sigmund was taking a good thing too far. Still, it's true that the sex drive does move the merchandise.
     In using this fact, realize the sex drive refers to much more than raw passion. In consumer psychology, it means the mutual attraction of masculinity and femininity toward each other. It's the Yin and the Yang. The complete package of passion is in the interaction. And with seniors as compared to younger adults, it is in thoughts of intimacy to a greater degree than in thoughts, fantasies, and desires around sexual intercourse. For seniors, depictions in ads of touching, hugging, cuddling, and kissing will resonate well and arouse a sales appeal paralleling how depictions of sexually attractive models and sexually suggestive behaviors work for younger target markets.
     The waning preoccupation with sexual intercourse among the elderly can be attributed to hormonal declines, increases in cardiovascular and metabolic conditions, and loss of partners as people age. There is a psychological shift from pleasure as excitement to pleasure as the security which intimacy provides. On average, older adults prefer calm TV advertisements with few camera changes, slower speech, and relaxing or no music over more arousing advertisements.
     In the studies of sex and intimacy, two of the intimacy scale items were “I feel safe and accepted during sex” and “My needs for acceptance and security are currently satisfied.” Overall, the older participants in the study showed lower frequency of sexual activity and sexual thoughts than did the younger participants, but not different ratings of intimacy.
     With all of this, acknowledge the range of individual differences among seniors. About one-third of the 60 to 82 year olds in the studies reported more blatantly sexual thoughts and activities than did the averages for even the comparison group of 22 to 36 year olds. Still, remember that the conclusions were based on self-report measures. Hmm. Might the finding of enlarged libido among these one-third be due at least in part to boastful exaggeration or wishful thinking?

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Monday, August 26, 2019

See Visualization’s Carryover Advantages

When you ask a shopper to visualize acquiring or using the product you’re marketing, the probability of a purchase climbs. Studies at University of Central Florida and Texas Tech University say that this happens not only for the product you’ve asked the consumer to visualize, but also for products the consumer associates with use of the focal product.
     The researchers found this to be true when the focal product was drinking glasses and the complementary product was a water pitcher, with curtains and a curtain rod, and with colored pencils and a pencil sharpener. Another set of researchers saw evidence of an even wider carryover. In these studies at Northwestern University and University of Chicago, people asked to visualize acquiring or using mayonnaise developed more positive attitudes toward ketchup. However, in all these studies, the increase in purchase likelihood is seen most clearly with related products. There’s not a general increase in willingness to buy.
     A carryover effect is stronger when we ask the shopper to visualize acquiring the item, such as ordering it online or putting the item into the shopping cart, than when we ask the shopper to visualize using the item.
     We can, of course, prompt both types of imagining, but sales of the complementary items are more likely if we first suggest visualizing the acquisition, next point out complementary items, and then suggest visualizing use of the items. The effectiveness of advertising and signage is enhanced by illustrations of people acquiring an item, not only of people using an item. Further, the illustrations of people acquiring an item could stimulate larger shopping cart totals if used with sets of complementary items.
     When what is imagined is use of the item, consumer researchers call it a “consumption vision.” Incorporate colorful images and vivid language to stimulate the senses, but give people the minimum amount of technical information necessary to set up the imagining. The power of consumption visions is greater when a person fills in some of their own blanks. In face-to-face selling, provide more details only if the shopper seems to be floundering to visualize.
     Even with technical information plus more details, visualization might not come easily. Researchers at Brigham Young University and Santa Clara University documented how consumers differ widely in the ability and propensity to visualize during persuasive communications. The influential text created by copywriters is unlikely to be completely replaced by images.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Sandbag Senior Swindles

Ethical sellers profit by assertively steering older adults away from alternative suppliers who engage in flimflam. Researchers at University of Florida, Shaanxi Normal University, and China’s Southwest University recognize that, in order to do this, it’s useful to understand what about being elderly reduces resistances to being swindled. By reviewing prior studies, they identified these causes:
  • As we age, it takes us longer to fully understand what we’re told and predict the consequences of actions we’re considering. Related to this, seniors use shortcuts to simplify their decision making so it is more manageable for them. Unless there are severe deficits, seniors can identify scams, but not if they feel rushed. So to sandbag swindles, encourage your shoppers to proceed patiently when they tell you of offers which seem too good to be fruitful. 
  • Advanced age also brings with it an increased trust in people. The elderly may not realize they’re being cheated, instead attributing their losses to miscommunication or the good intentions of the marketer having gone wrong. When you sense that your senior shopper is being victimized, discuss with them the specifics of why you consider that as a possibility. Explain to them the advantages of overcoming any embarrassment and hesitations in reporting fraud to the authorities. Reporting reduces the chances others will be cheated and also stamps into the senior’s mind the warning signs they can use in the future. 
  • There is also a misplaced trust in one’s own abilities. Most adults maintain into old age adequate financial literacy. But the elderly also tend to overestimate their financial knowledge and are overconfident in their financial decisions. Don’t insult seniors by implying they are inept. Do volunteer to assist seniors with their financial reasoning. 
     These factors are in part consequences of actual changes in the brain. The portions responsible for speedy comprehension and analysis deteriorate. Those functions are shunted to portions which are still intact, but need to learn how to handle the responsibility. And as to interpersonal trust, the anterior insula, which plays a part in identifying face-to-face lying, operates less well.
     Studies at Stanford University, Duke University, Humboldt University Berlin, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and AARP identified more ways in which emotional arousal, such as that famously used by successful con artists to maintain involvement, interferes with our critical thinking skills. This happens in adults of all ages, but the negative effects grow worse as we age.

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Keep Calm to Carry On Seniors’ Fraud Evasion
Qualify Your Customers by Interacting
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