Monday, July 16, 2018

Go Intense with Threatened Shoppers

If your shoppers seem unsure of themselves, up the intensity in what you present them. Bolder claims of purchase benefits, more expressive gestures, larger samples, item alternatives with brighter colors, areas of the store with stronger fragrances.
     Researchers at Indian School of Business exposed participants to messages which produced either high or low self-doubt about the participants’ intellectual abilities. Afterwards, those participants with self-doubt tended to prefer brighter colors and louder music than those without self-doubt.
     Going big helps make the sale. Except when it doesn’t. Researchers at HEC-Paris and Northwestern University concluded that when the large size of a product or package implies power, consumers craving more power go for the large. A set of study participants were offered a choice of different-sized bagel pieces. Those participants who felt powerless in the face of threats chose bigger pieces.
     But when small size implies status, consumers who feel relatively powerless will forgo the large. In another study, participants were offered four sizes of hor d’oeuvres. Some of the people were told that the largest ones had recently been served at a White House event. The rest were told that the White House event featured the small hor d’oeuvres. In this case, the status of being a White House appetizer outflanked the importance of size. The participants preferred the smaller items.
     Other studies have identified ways a retailer can influence a shopper’s sense of power. In a Northwestern University project, it didn’t take much: Some of the study participants were asked to imagine an actual episode in the past when they possessed high power in a situation. You could adapt that to discussions you have with a regular customer.
     Show advertisements and store signage which emphasize the power possessed by the shopper (“At our store, you’re the boss”) rather than those which deemphasize the power (“At our store, we take care of you”). And treat the shopper with deference more than with authority.
     When the salesperson takes on the role of Coach or Playmate, this builds the sense of power of the shopper.
  • The Coach reassures us. The customer expects the Coach to be available until the problem is solved and to encourage the customer to buy whatever is needed to solve it. 
  • The Playmate loves fun. The customer expects the Playmate to be more interested in how the shopping experience feels than in how the product or service works. 
For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

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Saturate Hungry Shoppers with Vibrant Colors
Slice Off Consumers’ Small-Penis Syndrome
Manipulate the Shopper’s Sense of Power
Position the Logo Like a Handshake

Monday, July 9, 2018

State That Status Shouldn’t Affect Service

Effective salespeople adjust their approach to each customer’s characteristics, and highly skilled salespeople use observations of each customer’s appearance to assess those characteristics. Still, none of this means your store’s salespeople should treat low-status shoppers shabbily.
     Researchers at Catholic University of Eichstaett–Ingolstadt and National University of Singapore analyzed how frontline employees handled angry complaints from female customers about flawed service. The researchers defined high status customers as those wearing business dress and having professionally styled makeup and hair. Those wearing the equivalent of jeans and a T-shirt and not appearing to have professionally styled makeup or hair were defined as low status. The researchers found that, compared to the treatment of the high status customers, the low-status angry complainers were less likely to be offered restitution to compensate for the dissatisfaction and were more likely to be yelled at by the employee.
     But this difference reliably occurred only in businesses judged to have an overall poor service climate. In the businesses with a high service climate, customers with angry complaints were handled adequately regardless of apparent status.
     You should not tolerate mistreatment of your employees by angry customers, no matter how bad the service transgression. However, yelling at the customer is not a proper response, and the response should be based on respect, concern, and empathy regardless of the social status of the customer.
     It is important for everyone on staff to be clear in words and actions that all shoppers are to be treated fairly. Discrimination in retailing is often subconscious.
     Some frontline retail staff carrying biases against minorities operate on the assumption that it’s only the minorities who are disturbed by discriminatory behavior. Since the prejudiced staff member decides consciously or subconsciously that they’d prefer not to do business with minorities anyway, they resist changing their behavior. But studies out of Clemson University and University of North Carolina-Wilmington saw how discriminatory behavior has more widespread effects on customer goodwill than those prejudiced frontline staff acknowledge. Many white shoppers became as outraged as blacks when the white shoppers observed a black customer being treated in a discriminatory way. All the customers are watching.
     Discrimination on the basis of race is illegal. Subtler forms of discrimination may not be against the law, but they’re still bad business. Michigan State University and University of Notre Dame researchers found that physically unattractive shoppers are frequently targets of rudeness and exploitation.

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

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Compare Notes on Body Language
Show Complainers Respect, Concern, & Empathy
Cool Down Customer Temper Tantrums
Watch Out for Discrimination
Look Out for Ugly Shoppers!
Confirm the Status Lift from Nonconformity

Monday, July 2, 2018

Disentangle Religiosity Effects on Shopping

For some time, consumer behavior researchers have noticed that patrons adhering to an organized religion will shop in distinctive ways. Identifying those distinctions could be valuable for retailers because many religious patrons frequently witness their faith in readily observable ways.
     But researchers at University of Wyoming caution the effects depend on whether the shopper is affectively or cognitively religious. People whose faith is primarily affective would strongly agree with statements like, “God is an important influence in my life.” The affectively religious take comfort in a personal relationship with a divine being. On the other hand, those whose faith is primarily cognitive would strongly agree with statements like, “The scripture of my religious affiliation is the word of God.” These consumers take comfort in adhering to a firm set of required and forbidden behaviors integral to the religion.
     Religiosity is associated with shopper conservatism and self-control. Research based at University of North Florida found that consumers who are more religious are more likely to be repeat store customers. This was true whether the religious folks were Protestants, Catholics, or Buddhists—the three faiths represented in the study sample. Consumers showing lower levels of religiosity or declaring themselves to be non-religious were more likely to switch stores from one shopping trip to the next.
     In addition, religious shoppers are more likely to be consistent tightwads than are non-religious shoppers. But other research evidence has defined tightwads as believing they should be spending more. Loosening up the self-control a bit could profitably serve both the shopper and your bottom line.
     The inquiry about differences between the affectively and cognitively religious discovered that with the affectively religious, commenting on religious beliefs in the purchase situation led to a strengthening of the self-control. With the cognitively religious, it relaxed self-control. Listening to how your shoppers evidence their religious beliefs helps you select a proper sales approach.
     Also disentangle the effects of religiosity, spirituality, and ethicality. Researchers at Appalachian State University and University of Nevada-Reno administered a Human Spirituality Scale asking how strongly one agrees with items reflecting a reverent compassion for the welfare of others, a larger context or structure in which to view one's life, and an awareness of life itself and other living things The participants were also presented with a set of situations measuring business ethics. Overall, those scoring highest on the HSS showed the lowest adherence to business ethics.

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

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Loosen Up Tightwads’ Wallets
React When Faced with Reactance
Maintain Customer Faith
Cheat the Notion Spirituality Means Honesty

Monday, June 25, 2018

Tool Up for Word-of-Mouth

What stimulates your customers to spread good news about your store? Researchers at Aston University and University of Surrey set out to answer this and related questions by analyzing results from prior studies conducted on a grand total of 239,000 shoppers from 41 countries regarding 24 tools.
     The tools—also called instruments or factors—that made the biggest difference for word-of-mouth (WOM), according to the meta-analysis:
  • Excellent customer service 
  • A coordinated blend of attractive visual décor, appealing music, and tempting scents 
  • Easy maneuverability around the store 
  • A useful mix of other types of retailers in the vicinity of the store 
     These four have outsized importance because they lend themselves well to brief reminiscences shoppers can relate to family and friends about their shopping experiences.
     The researchers were initially surprised that low prices didn’t make the cut as a top tool. Their explanation is that people enjoy getting a good deal, but fear that bragging about it to others will make them look cheap, threatening their social standing. It also could be that even those figuring they got a good price think others would consider it not good enough. Studies at University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of British Columbia found that when people believe they might have been able to wrangle a better deal on a product or service, this conclusion leads to them feeling a threat to their self-esteem and their self-image. They fear not only that others will see them as being suckers, but also that they’ll see themselves that way.
     Because of WOM’s value, are you now tempted to repeatedly point out to your shoppers how you’re doing well on those top four factors identified by the meta-analysis? Curb that urge. Researchers at University of Miami and University of Pennsylvania say you’d do better by hinting at it and allowing your shoppers to discover the rest for themselves. Customers are substantially more likely to share WOM with others if they have found at least some of the information on their own. In addition to the thrill of discovery, a major reason for this is that we associate discovered information with our self-image. We are less likely to criticize the information as unfounded or uninteresting.
     The advice for retailers wanting more WOM is to build shoppers’ knowledge about what is offered, then encourage shoppers to uncover for themselves the full extent of the four tools.

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

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Interpret Flawed Price Memory as Satisfaction
Worm Your Way into WOM with Self-Discovery
Meter Your Customer Service

Monday, June 18, 2018

Indulge in Group Nostalgia

When you stimulate within your shoppers fond memories of the past, they’ll yearn to eat candies and cakes with close friends. The explanation for this strange specific finding by researchers at Monash University, East China Normal University, and Chongqing Technology and Business University leads to broader lessons about how to employ nostalgia in retail sales.
     That explanation has to do with nostalgia emphasizing positive beliefs and feelings, with flashes of the indulgences and family support from consumers’ childhoods even if the fond memories are not primarily of childhood. As a result, nostalgic shoppers become less concerned about how others will judge their consumption decisions. This effect is stronger when the nostalgic shopper is actually accompanied by supportive family or friends. In the research, the relationship between a nostalgic frame of mind and consumption of indulgent foods was weakened when the consumer was told they’d be eating with strangers or eating alone.
     For these studies, nostalgia was generated by showing participants photos from the 1970s. Fragrances have also been used. But which stimuli will work does depend on when the target audience was born. The odor of hot chocolate and cinnamon has stronger effects on shoppers born in the 1940s than on those born in the 1970s.
     Item scarcity boosts existing feelings of nostalgia. And general social trends are a force. Among consumer psychologists, there’s a sense that nostalgia appeal grows during periods of uncertainty, such as from economic downturns or cultural isolation. Researchers from Arizona State University and Erasmus University in the Netherlands concluded that if people are feeling lonely, they get interested in nostalgia. When made to feel socially uncertain by the experimental manipulation, consumers became more likely to prefer automobile makes, food brands, TV shows, movies, and even shower soaps which reminded them of their personal history.
     In another example of the relationship between nostalgia and indulgence, nostalgia appeals have been found to loosen a consumer’s purse strings. Researchers at University of Minnesota, University of Southampton, and Grenoble École de Management asked each study participant in one group, selected at random, to think about their past. The remaining study participants were asked to think about recent or future events. Then each study participant was asked how much they’d pay for a set of items which were described by the researchers. The group who’d been asked to think about their personal past came in with higher bids overall.

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

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Appeal to Nostalgia
Keep Up-to-Date with Nostalgia Appeals
Crack the Code of the Healthy Snacker
Accept Shopper Concerns About Acceptance
Smell Familiar for Purchasing Enhancement